NEW 123

The Barcodes at Bluesnights - Dorchester Arts Centre
10th January 2004

by Lewis A Harris, pictures by Paul Martin

It was almost four years since we'd had a visit from The Barcodes and what a welcome return it was. The band features ex-Yardbird Alan Glen on vocals, harp and a 1968 Gibson guitar, Dino Coccia on drums and Bob Haddrell on keyboards and vocals. All three are veterans of the UK R&B and blues scene and, as is usually the case with musicians who play regularly together, there was an underlying empathy between them from the word go. Just a look or a smile or a nod and they would move effortlessly from one style to another. Throughout the numbers they built a foundation, embellished it, went off on a tangent and brought it all back home again. Put more succinctly, they were locked in really tight!
Their two sets encompassed a wide range of styles, starting off with a good up-tempo swinging version of “Early In The Morning”. Willie Dixon’s “Seventh Son” followed, with quite a jazzy feel to it, something that was to continue throughout the evening. Slim Harpo’s “I’m A King Bee” was very well done, with the required insistent riff! The mood ebbed and flowed then into a real hard driving version of Jimmy Reed’s “Big Boss Man”. This was well executed with particularly sharp, hard to the point drumming. The trio also showcased some of their own material. The title track from their only album “Keep Your Distance” featured Bob’s classy keyboard style and it cemented the excellent interplay between the trio — well done indeed! The following number was an inspired choice, one of my favourite JJ Cale compositions, “Don’t Go To Strangers”. This was a slow blues, performed with lovely solos from guitar and keyboards, which left this listener with a warm-all-through feeling! Up the tempo on a Charlie McCoy instrumental with fast paced harp, driving drums and keyboard, two more numbers swung us towards the interval. A very well received first set saw plenty of smiling faces.
The second set was a very good mix of rocking R & B but they started with one of their own called “Grits & Greens”. This instrumental is a nod in the direction of some of the clubs in London during the sixties, such as the “Bag Of Nails” and “Scotch of St James” where artists like Georgie Fame or the Peddlers had residence and where such a lot of creative musicianship occurred; anyone who was anybody could turn up, sit in and have a blow. Any chance of that ever happening again? This number was a very classy, swinging. foot-tapper — very enjoyable. Hearing it just evoked the 60s feel! Little Walter’s “One More Chance” meshed really well, featuring rock solid drumming welded to an excellent harp solo. More followed: Mose Allison, Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, then a rather intriguing reggae version of “Checking On My Baby” by Sonny Boy Williamson which had very poignant guitar and harp solos, quite unusual, but very pleasant!A slow, moody “The Sky Is Crying” by Elmore James was very well performed. Then came some more Jimmy Reed, a cracking rendition of “Got My Mojo Working” and on into Canned Heats “Going Up The Country”, impeccably performed and a timely reminder of one of the most underrated bands of the US white blues explosion of the 1960s. Finally, to finish the set, “Sfatesboro Blues”. Of course after this evening of superb entertainment we weren’t going to let them go quite so easily.
So they returned and performed Junior Wells’ “Snatch It Back And Hold It”. A deftly syncopated rhythm, a superb keyboard workout, harp solos and rock solid drumming what a great finale! This was one of those concerts where the quality was so good the empathy, the feel good factor, all rolled together just made for a wonderful evening. Twenty-three numbers performed certainly sums up a hard-working band that deserve top accolades. So for an evening of classy musicianship and your money’s worth, “Ladies and Gentlemen I give you - The Barcodes”.