Bernie Torme | The Peckham Cowboys
White Lion, Streatham
29 March 2014
Equal parts punk and hippy, Bernie Torme is still channelling Hendrix riffs into incendiary live shows. Martin Haslam is transported back in time, witnesses head-banging in Streatham.
Even with an evening’s drive from North Bedfordshire, this was too good to miss. For one; Bernie Torme, guitar hero and all round good bloke. I spent some of my youth, crushed at the front of the Marquee stage, watching Bernie and Phil Lewis. I saw him last with GMT several years ago. Secondly; The Peckham Cowboys recently released their second album, ’10 Tales From The Gin Palace’, which I reviewed here. Top notch sleazy rock ‘n’ blues from south of the river.
Thirdly; The White Lion, Streatham. What a great venue. Never been here before, it’s not exactly local for me any more but I urge you to check their gig list and seek it out. It’s a unique venue, home to the Music4Children charity, all gig profits go to music therapy and a host of associated good causes. All artists perform for free. A small but adequate stage area at one end of a nicely decorated bar. It’s packed tonight, afriendly atmosphere, helpful staff AND cheaper than Bedford! Quite a shock.
After wrestling with a borrowed satnav (thanks Darrell), we finally arrived after the joys of Edgware Road on a Saturday night, thereby missing the first two bands. I’d hoped to be early, chat/mingle, but I can only apologise. I’m here with my friend Alex Grady, a proper photographer and fellow Torme obsessive. He kindly provided the shots tonight.
A little after 9pm and The Peckham Cowboys take to the stage. Album opener ‘Not Guilty’ starts proceedings and it’s clear that they are at home here. I expected Nigel Mogg to be on bass duties tonight, but their rotating roster of musicians are in fine form anyway. Based around the nucleus of singer Marc Eden, guitarists Dale Hodgkinson and Timo Caltio, their brand of loose, sometimes funky rock goes down well with the crowd.
Even tracks from decidedly lo-fi debut ‘Flog It!’ sound more muscly and lived-in tonight; live, they make more sense. Marc is clearly enjoying his role as tale-teller and testifier, like Zodiac Mindwarp’s natty nephew. They end with sole cover ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ to a warm response from the crowd. I suspect they’ve gained more followers tonight.
And so, on to a man who is rightly introduced as a ‘legend’ but prefers ‘leg-end’. Bernie, Chris and Simon launch into ‘Wild West’ and we’re really on a rocket ride now. I’m transported back 25 years, the riffs and squeals still reassuringly unchanged. No one else sounds like Bernie Torme; part punk, part hippy, the fluidity of Hendrix with his own attacking style.
It’s a while since I’ve seen headbanging in a pub, but tonight people are going for it. The bloke on my right is dancing like he’s been tasered, but is clearly enjoying himself.
We get ‘Mystery Train’ with guitar raised aloft, ‘Star’, ‘Turn Out The Lights'(I LOVE that song), ‘Bullet In The Brain’ and ‘You Can’t Beat Rock ‘n’ Roll’ from GMT and ‘Trouble’ before a team member of the charity gets up to sing a jam with the band. Amazingly, this guy can sing. What a relief. It’s then time for ‘Smoke On The Water’ with audience participation from a fella who clearly only knows the song title. Never mind, Bernie takes it with good grace and the friendly atmosphere remains intact. Bernie Torme’s new Pledge Music campaign will be up and running by the time this review is online. If you’ve ever liked his stuff or seen him live, you know what to do.
So, ‘all in a good cause’ rings true tonight. It almost feels like summer…
The Peckham Cowboys Facebook.
All words by Martin Haslam, find his Louder Than War archive here.