Roy Wood and his Rock and Roll band made their customary annual festive appearance at Symphony Hall this past weekend and once again delighted the capacity crowd with the best of his 60’s and 70’s chart toppers. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee remains in fine voice, even if he does occasionally need prompting as to what song is coming next in the set list (although when you have written as many great songs as Woody has over the years it can’t always be easy to remember every last one of them).
Earlier in the evening the show was opened by the Climax Blues Band who are best remembered for 70’s transatlantic smash ‘Couldn’t Get It Right’. Vocalist Graham Dee tells the audience that 2019 has been one to remember for the band with new album, the jazz funk influenced Hands of Time being well received and seeing an upturn in their profile. They play a largely laid back and mellow set driven along by signature sax and gentle shuffle that evoked the smouldering sounds of latter-day Steely Dan. ‘Hard Luck’ and ‘Ain’t That A Kick in the Head’, both taken from the new album, are evidence that CBB can still write some catchy tunes and Dee is an animated and vibrant frontman who manages to get everyone on their feet for ‘Couldn’t Get It Right’. The current line-up is now led by George Glover, who has been on the keyboards since 1980, along with guitarist Lester Hunt and drummer Roy Adams (both present since 1985) and bassist Neil Simpson (1991) with both Dee and saxophonist Chris Aldridge joining in 2012. But whereas the line – up has evolved many times over the past five decades the Climax Blues Band proved they are still able to deliver crowd pleasing performances full of musical virtuosity and were a great choice to open this year’s Rockmas.
Just prior to Woody taking the stage the customary comedian slot was filled by Mick Miller who had the crowd laughing in the aisles and no one seemed to mind that one or two of the jokes were recycled from last year’s show. Mick then introduced the Rock and Roll band who kicked off with an instrumental version of ‘Brontosaurus’ before the man himself came on stage and led them into ‘California Man’. What followed was a best of The Move (‘I Can Hear The Grass Grow’, ‘Flowers in the Rain’, ‘Fire Brigade’) and Wizzard (‘Angel Fingers’, ‘Ball Park Incident’, ‘See My Baby Jive’) before the special guest slot saw 80’s singer Mari Wilson join Roy and the band for renditions of her biggest hits, ‘Cry Me A River’ and ‘Just What I Always Wanted’. Accompanied by the Enigma Stings, Roy closed out the show with superb versions of ‘Blackberry Way’ and ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ before confirming that Rockmas would return once again in 2020.