Bill Kirchen: Half Moon, Putney, London
Half Moon Putney
28th February 2015
Legendary American musician makes his return to the UK. Louder Than War’s Craig Chaligne reviews his London show.
Bill Kirchen is a veteran of the US Americana scene that has been criss crossing the US for almost 40 years. He was at first a member of Commander Cody And His Lost Planet Airmen. After the band disbanded in 1976, he formed the Moonlighters who built a close working relationship with Pub Rock stalwart Nick Lowe. They included in their ranks piano player Austin De Lone, a former member of Eggs Over Easy, the band that kick-started the Pub Rock movement in London. Kirchen spend most of the eighties as a session man for like minded musician (Gene Vincent, Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello) and since the mid-nineties he has been concentrating on his own career, regularly putting out albums and clocking up in the region of 200 gigs per year.
The show at The Half Moon was the second night of his UK tour and saw him backed by a rhythm section composed of Paul Riley on bass (another veteran of the pub-rock scene who has played with Van Morrison, Nick Lowe, Johnny Marr…) and Malcolm Mills on Drums. Mills and Riley are also the label bosses of Proper Records, the label that releases Kirchen’s albums. The keys were handled by De Lone who provided also much of the evenings funniest comments. Kirchen, a more than amiable host, seem genuinely pleased by the healthy crowd that had made its way to the “Half Moon Saloon” to see him work his magic on his Telecaster (and his baritone Danelectro). The setlist was heavily reliant on his last three releases for Proper. His paean to the Fender Telecaster “The Hammer Of The Honky Tonk Gods” from 2006’s eponymous album was one of the highlights as was a guest spot by Nick Lowe on a cover of “Seven Nights To Rock”. Austin De Lone sang lead on a few numbers including a funky version of “I’m Gonna Put A Bar In The Back Of My Car And Drive Myself To Drink” that featured some excellent bass work courtesy of Paul Riley. Kirchen is known as the “King Of Dieselbilly” and even if it was the more uptempo numbers that got the crowd going (“Get A Little Goner”,”Too Much Fun”), songs like “Rocks In The Sand” and “Skid Row In My Mind” proved that his songwriting was far from being one-dimensional. He closed the show with his most famous song “Hot Rod Lincoln” that enables to display his talent for guitar mimicking and his sense of humour and an excellent version of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin'”
All words by Craig Chaligne. More from Craig can be found at his Author Archive.