As I walk past the Indian Restaurant situated on the Parade of shops at the end of my Road I often see stuck up in the window entertainment to entice potential customers into sampling their wares. These normally come in the form of an A4 poster with a picture of a George Michael, or a Michael Jackson tribute act who will, whilst you are eating, sing all their hits. I can’t think of anything worse than having “Wake Me Up Before You Goa Goa” ringing in my ears, ruining my Chicken Bhuna (Did you see what I did there?).
However, there is a time and a place for tribute acts; when your favourite band becomes so huge that the only venues that they play are enormodomes which means binoculars to see them and a second mortgage to pay for the privilege, Metallica. Or after years of services they have retired from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus, Rush. The saddest thing is if that all Classic era members are now playing in the great gig in the sky, Ramones and Motörhead. Then there’s the anomaly that is The Feelgood Band. Playing Clubs and Pubs the same size and sometimes even bigger than Dr. Feelgood the band they pay homage to. To blur the lines even more between Tribute and the Real Thing is that both feature no original members. To be fair the current Dr. Feelgood line-up has been playing together longer than Lee Brilleaux, Wilko Johnson, The Big Figure and John B Sparks ever did. That period though (1971-1977) is the basic remit for The Feelgood Band, to recreate that Canvey Island R&B energy and swagger. Watching The Feelgood Band at The Pelton Arms I felt I was an extra in either a Sky Arts or a BBC4 Docudrama. Considering the Pub has doubled as The Nags Head from the “Only Fools and Horses” prequel “Rock & Chips” this could be plausible. When vocalist Mark introduces the band for a second I think he’s gone off script wondering who are these people he’s name checking. None of The Feelgood Band go out of their way to look like the members they are mimicking, no Brilleaux dirty white suit, but they have the moves and flavour, but most importantly they really and I mean really do sound like Dr. Feelgood from that time period. “Roxette”, “She Does It Right”, “Going Back Home” et el are all “Close your eyes and you would think you were there” moments.
Having said that though the band do stray into some of Wilko’s post Feelgood solo recordings with a healthy dose of songs that the band recorded with Gypie Mayo; “My Buddy Buddy Friends”, “She’s A Wind Up”, “Down to The Doctors” and even “No Mo Do Yakamo” from 1980’s “A Case of the Shakes”. Disappointingly for me as I love it, no “Milk and Alcohol”. I’m not sure why it wasn’t included, maybe unlike the others, it can’t be Wilkoised.
At the stroke of 11 pm The Feelgood Band wrap things up to the dying sounds of Bonfire Night Fireworks and I have no idea who had the better time; the band or the audience.
(Band photo courtesy The Feelgood Band Facebook Page)