The Borderline, London
29th October 2014
His audience may be a little older and wiser but if it’s air guitar they want, then Bernie Torme is happy to oblige.
Just the other week I was waxing lyrical right here about the first Bernie Torme album for 15 years. Now, I get to see him play for the second time this year AND interview him for our esteemed online presence. Sometimes, I am really lucky. The interview is on its way; right now, let’s focus on the gig.
With a successful Pledge Music campaign under his belt and 20 new songs on the new double album ‘Flowers And Dirt’, it was very pleasing to witness a busy Borderline on a wet Wednesday night in October. Bernie said he’d been unsure of how many people would support the new album and tour. Well, here’s the proof.
Support tonight was provided by The Broken Chords; a tight three-piece who sound like a more contemporary Rival Sons. As in less pretentious or obsessed with Jim Morrison. There’s a 70s vibe to some riffs, but they don’t slavishly stick to the past. Minor sound problems aside, they kept the audience’s attention throughout their 30 minute set, are clearly having a ball and I’d be happy to see them again. Good choice.
Giving the faithful what they want, Bernie Torme launches straight in with ‘Wild West’, no messing. Those inimitable guitar tones transport me, and most others here, back to our youth, a sweaty Marquee, and a bit more hair. The second Torme gig for me this year and, again, there is a wealth of air-guitar going on. And no one cares. I’m among friends here, even if I don’t know their names. I’d got chatting to two chaps during the soundcheck and we got on like the proverbial house on fire. It’s a great atmosphere.
There’s a good balance of material, covering solo, GMT, old and new, so we get Bullet In The Brain, Blood Run Cold, Turn Out The Lights and a moment that could throw drummer Ian Harris, if he wasn’t so professional, when Bernie plays the songs in a different order to the set list. Yes, Bernie is a Star, as Phil Lewis used to sing, though the good man is too self-deprecating to acknowledge it.
Getting There means more to me now I’m a little older and wiser, then after the workout of Stoneship there’s a brief drum solo to allow Bernie and long-time bass cohort Chris Heilmann to take a short break before joining in with Rocky Road, where rock and celtic blend beautifully.
Can’t Beat Rock N Roll, a rollicking Trouble, then the inevitable New Orleans ends the set before Bernie calls up a Pledger to play on the encore of Hendrix’s Fire. No pressure then! I doubt that fella will have a more memorable night on a stage. Kudos to you. As I found during the interview to come, Bernie Torme is the gent I’d always expected him to be. And it’s heartening to see the love that the audience has for him here tonight. Long may he continue to play damn loud. No matter what Jasper Carrott says.
All words by Martin Haslam, find his Louder Than War archive here.