The John Verity Band at the Malt Shovel Tavern
2nd May 2011
Musical preferences are very personal, and whilst most people enjoy a particular musical performance once or twice, not everyone wants to see the same show over and over again. So if you end up in an eternal afterlife with a bunch of musicians, you'd better pray that they play the kind of music you really like. After all, I'm sure Matt Monro fans will be hoping that all trash metal musicians end up in hell.
This thought struck me during the John Verity Band's bank holiday Monday afternoon gig at the Malt Shovel Tavern. I visualized a huge UFO descending over the small Northampton real ale pub and magically transporting the pub and its occupants up into the hovering craft before whisking us all away to a distant planet called Ogg. Stuck on Ogg with a pub full of friendly people, first class real ale and the John Verity Band would not be half bad!
Back here on earth, the John Verity Band was the concluding act in a weekend of music concerts at the Malt Shovel Tavern, part of the pub's royal wedding celebratory beer festival. John's vocals and guitar playing were in excellent form, and despite turning 60 a couple of years ago, his vocals still retain all the power and range of a 30-year old. The set list was almost identical to the one he performed at the pub a couple of months earlier, but the performance lost none of its sparkle and drive, and the band pulled out all the stops for the friendly and enthusiastic crowd.
John played a Fender Stratocaster guitar through two daisy-chained Fender amps, both turned to full power. This arrangement provided plenty of overdriven which John masterfully controlled using the Strat's tremolo arm, teasing soaring Hendrix-like feedback effects and stunning blues-rock guitar licks.
The set list comprised mostly of covers, including a couple of Hendrix songs, plus some of John's own work, and the inevitable Argent classic, Hold Your Head Up. My particular favourites were the soulful Prove Your Love, written by John and sang with emotion and sincerity that only a personal investment in the lyrics can inspire, and Willie Dixon's Hoochie Coochie Man, a well worn blues standard that has found a new lease of life in John's cleverly rearranged score.
John was backed by his old friend and Argent band mate Bob Henrit on drums, and the indelible Northampton musical legend Mark Griffiths on bass.
Don't be fooled by the advancing years of these musicians. They can still rock it with the best of them. And if you think I'm kidding, consider for a moment the fact that Hendrit played the whole gig under some considerable physical discomfort, having been involved in a motorcycle crash the previous week. He sustained six cracked ribs to his back, and two to his chest! Yet he dragged himself all the way up from London to play the Malt Shovel gig. Now that's what I call rock 'n' roll.
John Verity - Guitar and Vocals
Mark Griffiths - Bass
Bob Henrit - Drums