Friday 28 February 2014


Live Review

Newhampton Arts Centre

The atmosphere was filled with nostalgia and the weeks of waiting were over for both the fans and the band. Midlands group The Desperate Men had not played together for 10 years although you wouldn't have thought so as they launched into their first number.

John Richards
Dave Jones, originally from Wolverhampton and now a native of Cork, Eire had returned for the reunion, and banged out the first sound with the thumping intro of The Wall of Death on his drums.
Frontman John Richards, from Bridgnorth, Shropshire launched into each of the opening numbers with a real enthusiasm almost like the latent rock musician in him had been dormant too long and finally relished the idea of being let off the leash.
Right from the off, Richards looked more comfortable with the faster-paced rock and blues sound than in his folk persona as the voice and lead of The John Richards Band.
Dave Jones
Richards has been on the Midlands music scene longer than he cares to remember and is a respected musician with his songs being picked by some of the biggest names on the folk circuit including Fairport Convention.
Before a packed theatre at the Dunkley Street centre he and the assembled band showed their versatility moving from rock to Cajun and then to much heavier reggae dub sound such as All She Took Away.
The Desperate Men, which this time included Richards' eldest daughter Emma - who has sung with her father for many years, were made up from the ashes of Maurice and the Minors and was originally Three Desperate Men with the "Three" being dropped not soon after.
Steve Watton
After several albums and many years together drummer Jones was the catalyst for The Desperate Men disbanding. His wish to live in Eire took him away and the rest of the band decided it was time to call it a day and went their separate ways with Richards heading back to the folk circuit. Jones still plays with bands in Eire one of which is roots and Americana outfit Two Time Polka.
If the band wanted to prove they still had what it takes to play rock 'n' roll and blues then anyone who was at the gig wouldn't argue that the old magic was still there and what's more they seemed to be enjoying playing as much as their fans from the past enjoyed listening to them.
Ian Rowley
Switching across genres from rock to blues to ballads mixing up their own writings with those of others including Bob Seger, The Waterboys, The Pogues and REM they showed what a seasoned and relaxed band they were.
Paul Dowswell
Accordion player Steve Watton got his chance to shine with his own rock number I believe I'm In Love With You with Richards gave a rare glimpse of his gobiron skills during the song. For some reason it took a while, some gentle goading and possibly the right amount of alcohol before the dance floor disappeared under bodies but it was obvious from the turnout and reception that, even a decade on, The Desperate Men are remembered with fond affection.
Richards treated the audience to several of his own songs one of which was Never Trouble Trouble 'til Trouble Troubles You, catchy title it ain't, a torch style, slow blues anthem which was given a thumping underbeat by Ian Rowley on his slick looking electric double bass with the tune filled out by Paul Dowswell on electric guitar, who is also a successful author.
Emma Richards
Although the musicians individually have all been active in some form or other when they came together as The Desperate Men they showed no sign of "ring rust" and it was obvious from the individual performances and the show they put on as a band they had come not so much to relive the past but enjoy the present however, this time using the experience and expertise they had acquired from years of treading the boards added to the atmosphere.
As the John Richards Band is on something of a sabbatical for the foreseeable future where The Desperate Men go from here is anyone's guess but they are certainly worth a night out to see them.

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