Geraint Watkins and The Mosquitoes: The Wheatsheaf, Tooting Bec, London – live review

Geraint Watkins and The Mosquitoes

The Wheatsheaf, Tooting Bec 

22nd June 2014

Geraint Watkins is a famous keyboard session player who’s played with Paul McCartney, Van Morrison and Dave Edmunds. Last week he played a show at The Wheatsheaf, Tooting Bec and Louder Than War’s Craig Chaligne was there.

Since March 2014, Geraint Watkins, one of the UK’s best keyboardist (Van Morrison, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings…) has been playing every second Sunday at The Wheatsheaf, a nice pub located just outside the exit of Tooting Bec tube station. He’s backed by The Mosquitoes which are basically the house band of Gold Top recording studios that operate from Gravity Shack two minutes away. The band comprises Martin Winning (saxophone and clarinet) Bobby Irwin (drums) Matt Radford (bass) and Oliver Darling (guitar).

So far, I’ve attended every gig bar one (I missed Nick Lowe deputising on bass for an unavailable Matt Radford). After a slow start the first week, the gig has grown more and more popular with some famous faces attending including Mark Lamarr, Mark Ellen, Wizz Jones and the aforementioned Mr Lowe.

The opening act for The Mosquitos was Niall Kelly, an Irish musician who also lives in Tooting and doubles up as MC for the afternoon. Niall’s set saw him plugging his soon to be released album, Not Sleeping. Accompanied by James Forster on guitar with harmonies from his wife Caitlin, Niall played a mix of blues and folk that has been described by Uncut Magazine as “in the vein of Astal Weeks-era Van and early Tim Buckley” (you could do worse!).

After a short break The Mosquitoes came on featuring two “new” members, the young Tucker Nelson on drums (deputising for Bobby Irwin who has been unwell recently) and Gold Top Studio head honcho Neil Brockbank on vibes. After opening with an instrumental piece that showcased Martin Winning’s wonderful sax playing, the band segued into “Easy To Say Bon Temps Roulez” from the 2008 album In A Bad Mood. Watkins’ music is a mix of rock ‘n’ roll, blues, Cajun with Brill Building-era songwriting thrown into the mix (an excerpt of Bacharach/David’s “Alfie” was played during the first set).

Watkins sees himself as a side man more than a solo artist. After recording his first album in 1979, he waited until 1998 to release his second effort Bold As Love. Since then he has been putting out a new album every four or five years to great critical acclaim. Highlights of the set were “Shine A Light” from the recently released “Moustique” and a wonderful version of “La Vie En Rose”.

The band had attempted a few bars of Dancing Queen a few weeks back, they did it in full this time and rather well! Watkins’ days in The Balham Alligators weren’t forgotten with Secret Love and their arrangement of Johnny B Goode getting an airing. Guitarist Oliver Darling got to sing a few songs too and you could almost feel that Watkins was enjoying himself more backing his guitar player than being the centre of the attention. A fine afternoon of live music for the price of a couple of pints.

 ~

For further info on Geraint Watkins  you can check his official Facebook page.

All words by Craig Chaligne. More from Craig can be found at his Author Archive. He tweets at @ChaligneCraig.

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  1. Tucker Nelson is my boy and Im so happy I once told him, “if you learn all rudiments, I will buy you a brand new drum set” 3 months later, with an excellent instructor; I had to bite the bullet and buy the young lad a Yamaha set. At age 9 he knew something about drums. He learned the Chapman book. Boy on boy am I happy I made that challenge as Tuck is now truly professional. AWESOME

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