ROBERT GORDON & CHRIS SPEDDING at the Cadillac Lounge, August 25. Tickets: $30. Attendance: sold out. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
If I could have one wish come true for the rest of my life (besides world peace and a car made entirely of diamonds and bacon), it would be that I could look and act as cool as rockabilly revivalist Robert Gordon when I'm 60.
Man, the guy just oozes the same badass cool-daddy attitude that saw him attempt a rockin' revitalization of hip cat music back in the 70s and pave the way for others like the Stray Cats. And even though that era has long since passed, Gordon can still sell out two nights at the Cadillac Lounge and attract a loyal, fun-seeking (mostly) middle-aged crowd who admire the man and consider him a rock 'n' roll hero. Deservedly so.
Instead of playing with various backing bands from city to city, as he's sometimes done, Gordon brought along long-time collaborator and musical legend in his own right Chris Spedding , known for his work in the past with Roxy Music, Brian Eno and his demo recordings with the Sex Pistols and the Cramps.
Understandably, then, the Friday crowd was jazzed about the whole shebang, and for a time it seemed like things would go off without a hitch and we could all stand back and enjoy a nice little show.
Unfortunately, technical problems threatened to bury the whole thing before it really began. After only four songs, the P.A. system blew, causing a good 10-minute delay before Spedding and the band filled in with some instrumentals. So, yeah, just a minor inconvenience. Soon Gordon was back onstage crooning away in his velvety baritone that sent shivers up more than a few backs (including mine).
It's not like Gordon does much onstage; he kind of stands around wearing this smug/cool/happy-to-be-here grin while he claps along to the beat and tries to suss out the crowd with his piercing eyes.
And the whole act works. Songs like Elvis's Suspicion, Sea Of Heartbreak and the stompy, upbeat Loverboy kept everyone happy. Then Spedding took over for a short solo set that showed off his fantastic old-school rock chops and paid homage to various "guitar greats" in the affectionate if slightly bizarre song Guitar Jamboree, where he inter-spliced some of rock's favourite licks by Jimmy Page, George Harrison, Chuck Berry and Eric Clapton between classically styled rock 'n' roll choruses.
Technically, Spedding is near flawless, but in terms of appearing alive on stage, he loses some big points. Maybe it was fatigue, but he looked pretty damn tired. Then, soon after Gordon returned to resume his set, a second and more unusual technical problem (drummer breaking bass drum skin weird) and subsequent lengthy delay meant the night's momentum was all but dead in the water.
Too bad, cuz even though the night was full of good times, it had the potential to be a lot better.