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Concert Review by Nick Morgan
 
Mose Allison  

NINE BELOW ZERO
100 Club, London, May 5th 2005
by Nick Morgan

Serge, as you know I’m behind with my reviews, so in keeping with the electric pace that this gig was played at, I’ll try and keep this one short and quick.

Oh yes – band background for the uninitiated. Well, established in 1977 by a South London (Tulse Hill of all places, hardly the Delta) bloke called Dennis Greaves (guitarist) and his pal, shy yet Ace harmonica player Mark Feltham, and two others. A few decent albums, notably Live at the Marquee (1980), then lots of people leave, other join (e.g. Barcodes harpster Alan Glen), band does not a lot, then sort of reforms with Greaves and Feltham and ex Rory Gallagher rhythm section Gerry McAvoy (bass) and Brendan O’Neill (drums), various CDs (including the not bad 2004 Hat’s Off) and this gig at the 100 Club. Phew! Read the rest on what is even by my standards the somewhat anal band website (“Brendan has his own special sticks made to his own specification by Shaw Stix, which he is very satisfied with” – I mean to say!)
Nine below Zero   Anyway if I was confused at being here – it wasn’t my idea I should say, but a treat for a Scottish Pal and Big Fan who almost cried when his name was read out on stage by Dennis, “This is a song for a bloke from Furnace who wants to buy us some whiskies” – my confusion was nothing compared to the Japanese couple transfixed in front of the stage.
“Albert Hall not as big as expected” confided the man to me, “and Ginger Baker, he look much better than expected”, “Why there four not three?” Well, I suppose that’s what you get if you get your Cream tickets from touts – but I can’t help thinking that we (and the Japanese couple) had more fun than the staid middle aged liggers who filled the AH for four nights or so on vastly overpriced corporate entertainment beanos.
For the 9 Below 0 boys played their hearts out – worked through all their (and everybody else’s) classics – and had the place absolutely humming. They have a truly British turn on the Blues greats – try out their version of Muddy Walters’ Willie Dixon special, ‘I wanna be loved’. And Feltham – with his wonderful collection of harps - was something very special – at least until he sang – which was probably the weak spot (not just him, but Greaves also) of the whole band.  
Nine below ZeroMark Feltham's harmonica collection on stage
I would also have to observe that although we had the photographer and another lady in our party this was really boy’s R&B. So I was hardly surprised that when it kicked off in front of the stage (as it had too) John yelled “Let’s rumble”, and only failed to join the fray when no-one volunteered to hold his beer. Meanwhile the Japanese guy was giving it off to all-comers shouting ‘No show disrespect to Eric like that”. The band grinned, turned up the volume, and once the casualties had been removed cranked it up for another half an hour or so. Oh what a night – and I’m so glad we were there paying our dues rather than down at the crossroads with the toads and politicians getting it all for (I feel) free. Nick Morgan (photos by Kate)



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