Roundhouse, London

WELL, Joe Cocker wasn’t there.- at least I don’t think he was. After a very hard weekend of various rock ‘n’ roll activities the strain began to tell and I left the Roundhouse a quarter of an hour or so before Kokomo came off the stage. Perhaps it would be more truthful therefore if I amend my initial comment somewhat. Backstage, the whispered ‘Joe Cocker’s here tonite’ buzz was conspicuous by its absence.

RoundhouseJan76Conspicuous too by their absence were Kokomo stalwarts Neil Hubbard and drummer John Sussewell. London’s premier funk band are currently without either management or record deal. Money isshort and both have been offered lucrative work in the States with Robert Palmer. But Kokomo’s good vibe continues just the same. Hitman Glenn LeFleur (fresh from Gonzalez and the Lesley Duncan Band) and original K Jim Mullen stepped in at the last minute. And they fitted so well that, but for the tip off, I might not even have realised that this wasn’t the line-up that has been gigging regularly for the last month or so. It was very funky and very tight. Standing backstage what mistakes there were, were only discernible through the occasional looks of quizzical surprise that flashed between bass player, surrogate conductor Alan Spenner and Mr. LeFleur on the drums. The rest was lovely, with the terrific threesome of Dyan Birch, Paddy McHugh and Frank Collins in fine dancing form and better voice. Mel Collins pulled some goodies out of his sax case as usual while Jim Mullen thumbscrewed his Telecaster into a couple of fine solos every bit the equal of his beautifully sparse rhythm licks.

But if Kokomo failed anywhere it was in their material which didn’t share the immediacy of many of the songs on Cado Belle’s set list. I found the much vaunted Glasgow band more impressive than when I first saw them some six months ago and it was the strength of their writing that really drew me in. As players they left little to be desired, but if anything, everything was just too arranged, there was little or none of the spontaneity in Kokomo’s music section.

Compared though to the slick, clean disco image projected by Glasgow’s Cado Belle, the Strutters would certainly have been more downhome and gutsy, had the long queue outside the Roundhouse moved quickly enough to get me to the front in time to see them. It didn’t, although I heard the huge crowd within roar their final approval just as I surrendered my ticket. There will be more about the Strutters in the very near future. But just to keep you interested, I shall tell you that their pedigree is pretty good. Well, it must be to appear with the likes of Cado Belle and Kokomo, mustn’t it? Even if Joe Cocker wasn’t there.

CHAS DE WHALLEY. NME

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