Davina and the Vagabonds at Newcastle Cluny II
The Cluny, Newcastle
Thursday 17th May 2012
One of my greatest pleasures is discovering new music any of its shapes and forms and tonight was a bit of a revelation as I had only ventured out of the house because there was nothing on TV. As the support act finished there were only about 30 people scattered around The Cluny and perhaps 75 were scattered around the room when the band made their way onto the stage in their black three button suits, white shirts and skinny black ties followed by a magnificent looking Davina in a sexy green dress and her neatly coiffured hair in a beret.
I was completely won over inside the first minute of Louis Jordan’s Knock Me a Kiss! These kids were as tight as a fish’s bum and boy; can they play! The two guys who made up the Brass section were immaculate and swung like a pendulum on Don’t Tell Nobody and the drum and bass wouldn’t have been out of place in the Stax studio. Then there is Ms Sowers and her ability to platy the piano. This young lady must have studied at the knee of Dr John and/or Professor Longhair because she is the best Boogie-Woogie piano player I’ve ever seen live (inc. Jools Holland!).
An early slow Blues song –
Muddy Water perfectly showcased Davina’s sultry voice and piano playing; but this act isn’t just about the extroverted female lead because trumpet player Dan Eikmeier and bassist Michael Carvale both got to show what great voices they had too.
Speaking of Eikmeier; I don’t get to hear a lot of trumpet players but this guy sounded as good as Chet Baker to my humble ears and I can’t over emphasize what a compliment that is coming from me.
Hardly any of the songs lasted over two minutes but each one was perfectly assembled with New Orleans stompers following rollicking rockers and slow and sassy Blues tunes.
On St. Michael vs The Devil we got treated to a fantastic Gothic tune worthy of Tom Waits at his best and it even included a duel between Davina and Eikmeier’s trumpet to see who could hit the highest note – she won!
Of the band’s own songs
Lipstick and Chrome won best song of the night on a split decision but the actual knock-out song was their stunningly soulful version of Etta James’ classic
I’d Rather Go Blind which received a deserved standing ovation in the middle of the set.
That’s about it; a handful of people saw one of the best gigs of the year and when/if they come back next year I swear they will fill a hall twice the size of the Cluny II, so if they come to a town near you, go see them as they are the most fun you can have with your clothes on.