Wilko Johnson - London, O2 Forum, Kentish Town - 23rd April 2016 Print E-mail
Written by Martin Haslam   
Friday, 06 May 2016 03:00



So many bands/artists have a special place in our hearts and our lives. They’ve brought us together with lifelong friends, helped us celebrate key moments. And so, it seemed only fitting that I came here tonight with old friends to give thanks to the ongoing miracle that is Wilko Johnson.


Time may have widened our waistlines and partings, but the music rolls back the years. Tonight, I arrive at The Forum to catch the last few songs from support artist, Joanne Shaw Taylor. As my companions have managed to get the wrong train (some things never change), it’s a welcome diversion, even if the lengthy blues workouts aren’t quite my cup of tea. Joanne and her band are clearly very popular with the crowd. And what a crowd; I can’t remember seeing The Forum this packed. There’s a lot of love for Wilko, and, with the icons dropping like flies, we need a good luck story.


Amazingly, my comrades arrive just before the main set begins, and we even manage to find each other amongst the swelling audience. I’ve known Mugs and Al for over thirty years; Mugs and I met when forming our first band. All three of us loved Feelgood and Wilko back then. Some things will NEVER change.




It’s always risky trying to take photos when a band takes to the stage. And, tonight, the floor fairly shook with the rapturous response we gave Wilko Johnson. That’s my excuse for the attached picture anyway. ‘Alright’ is swiftly followed by ‘The More I Give’, a personal favourite. With little onstage chat, Wilko, Norman Watt-Roy and Dylan Howe rattle through pretty much what you’d want; ‘Dr Dupree’, ‘Going Back Home’ ‘Back In The Night’, the inevitable and unstoppable ‘Roxette’ and the now-celebratory ‘When I’m Gone’. Only ‘Sneakin’ Suspicion’ is noticeably a little ragged round the edges, but the gem is still Norman’s unique but bang-on bass lines, a perfect foil for Wilko’s sonic simplicity.


‘Cairo Blues’ gives a bit of variety to the sound, and there is the essential machine-gunning stance in ‘Everybody’s Carrying A Gun’ and closing song ‘She Does It Right’, before they return for ‘Bye, Bye Johnny’. Well, there’s a train to catch, sadly not to the Canvey Delta, so we crowbar our way outside to the station, safe in the knowledge that Wilko is in his rightful place and, for now, all’s right with the world.


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