England’s sixties rock wild boys, The Pretty Things, finally made it into Adelaide – after a fifty-five year delay – on Saturday night.
A moderately sized crowd at Fowler’s Live showed their love and appreciation for the cult band by enthusiastically cheering each song the band played from their still impressive sixties and early seventies repertoire.
It was easy to imagine that we had all been transported back to London – at the height of rock’s sixties beat group boom – and we were one of those privileged few who were getting to see the band play at their youthful best.
This latest incarnation of the band still play with some of that same fiery energy when they rip through the band’s originals and the covers that they made famous way back then. Honey I Need, Hey Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut, Big Boss Man, Don’t Bring Me Down, Midnight To Six Man, You Can’t Judge A Book By Looking At The Cover, Rosalyn and Roadunner all made welcome appearances in the set, as did a tastefully executed mid-set block of acoustic Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and Willie Dixon blues tunes.
Throughout all of these songs, the incomparable Dick Taylor proved he still had the chops to play lead guitar magnificently, evoking memories of a time when passion and touch trumped over virtuosity every time.
The sound mix at Fowler’s Live was, as usual, a bit muddy so Phil May’s voice, obviously not as strong as it once was anyway, following his recent health scares, was occasionally swallowed up by the powerful playing of this current Pretty Things line-up.
George Woosey on bass, Frank Holland on guitars and blues harp, and the incredible Jack Greenwood on drums, provided the evocative background colour upon which Dick Taylor’s guitar work painted hypnotic dreamscapes during some of the band’s more psychedelic numbers.
A short bracket of songs from their 1967 masterpiece S.F. Sorrow – S.F. Sorrow (Is Born), She Says Good Morning and I See You – were particularly memorable and featured the whole band contributing wonderful vocal harmony to great emotional effect.
The band also acknowledged their late sixties ‘wilderness years’, a time when they were forced to recorded under the nom de plume, The Electric Banana, by playing the song Alexander from that era, much to the great delight of the band’s many aficionados who were in attendance.
One of the biggest highlights of this show was their rendition of their classic psychedelic single, Defecting Grey, which, along with the epic version of their once-banned single, LSD, that they also played, really created an atmosphere of a typical sixties ‘happening’ – all we needed were the lava lamp projections, the go-go girls and the sugar cubes, and the time travel effect would have been complete!
A late set medley, delivered within the joyous Bo Diddley riffing of Mona, included songs like Pretty Thing, Who Do You Love and I Wish You Would, as well as a jaw dropping drum solo offered up by the young dynamo, Jack Greenwood. What a drummer!
By the end of the main set, the crowd’s hunger for the hits had been well satiated, but we all knew there was still one song left that we all wanted to hear.
To everyone’s delight, the encore delivered it – Rosalyn – which, along with a raucous version of Roadrunner, finished the performance on a high and the band left the stage to deafening, appreciative applause.
The Pretty Things may have been criminally overlooked and ignored far too often over their 55-year career, but they certainly ensured that they went out with an impossible-to-ignore explosion of classic rock and roll energy!
The Pretty Things played Fowler’s Live in Adelaide on Saturday, 13 October 2018