Tonight, Mountain drummer Corky Laing looks like a man who is prospering without the combined egos of Leslie West and Jack Bruce in front of him (think Mountain and West Bruce & Laing).
Pitching up at the 100 Club at the back end of an 8 day tour, Corky plays to an appreciative crowd who warm to his undiminished drumming skills and his ability to share some priceless anecdotes.
He opens with an a capella led ‘Silver Paper’ on which he mimics a Celtic fife player, before leading his heavy power trio through the best of Mountain and the afore mentioned West Bruce & Laing.
Corky tells us, he isn’t here to plug or sell anything and he just wants to have a good time by playing the Mountain back catalogue in the original way it was conceived.
This brings a welcome sense of concision to the dawn of power metal. If Cream opened the door to proto metal power blues then Mountain spread the word across the States. And tonight we’re in the presence of the man who powered that musical journey and who brought the cow bell to the forefront of rock music, a fact celebrated by a member of the audience with a replica to hand.
Corky’s power trio – the emphasis is very much on power – work hard to capture the sheer frisson of Mountain’s back catalogue, but it’s the between song stories and Corky’s solo version of ‘Just Like A Rollin Stone that steals the show.
The bass heavy, riff led ‘Never In My Life’ evokes the early 70’s era, while ‘Long Red’ rocks hard, before Corky gives us the low-down on the unexpected success of ‘Nantucket Sleighride’. He follows that with a ripping Mississippi Queen’ which brings roars of approval from the crowd. And just when you think it can’t get any better he completes a triple whammy in the shape of ‘Theme For An Imaginary Western’.
The power trio share the vocals which bring welcome variety to some high volume rock, but its Corky’s version of ‘Just Like A Rollin Stone’ – just him on vocals and drums – that provides the perfect metaphor tonight’s show.
He hits us with another great anecdote leading in to ‘For Yasgur’s Farm’, telling us about the origins of his two gold discs he received for Woodstock, a festival he never appeared on! No spoilers in this review, you need to see the show!
He finishes with a crowd pleasing ‘Politician’ and ‘Sunshine of Your Love’, on which his guitarist tone fails to do justice to the material as the wall of sound decimates any semblance of subtlety, but the size of Corky smile and his subsequent reception speaks volumes about the mutual bond between performer and audience. Tonight Corky is the survivor in chief and he clearly loves being so.
Earlier in the evening Born To Heal work their way through a classic 70’s blues/rock set featuring the fine vocal of Helen Turner.
Despite being sandwiched between the openers and headliners The Rainbreakers are a revelation. They open with the double guitar-led Coronation Street riff from Hendrix’s ‘Third Stone From The Sun’, before segueing into Albert Collins’s funky ‘If You Love Me Like You Say’.
They are even better on their own shimmering, sub psychedelic ‘On My Knees’. They then lean into the deep groove of ‘Blood Not Brass’, which showcases the estimable talents of vocalist Ben Edwards and guitarist Jack Cooper on an intricately built solo voiced over an elegant rhythm section that lets the song breath before a cleverly staggered outro.
They surprise us with Free’s ‘Fire & Water’, which Ben fills with gusto and they reach back further back in time, for the Monophonics version of Sonny Bono’s ‘Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down’), which mirrors their own west coast pop sensibilities.
There’s still time for the huge riff driven ‘Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On’ on a great finish by a band for the future on a night full of memories.
Review by Pete Feenstra
Photos by John Bull Rockrpix