Well what a treat we were in for tonight in the secluded realms of Heaton Moor. It’s back to The Blue Cat Cafe once again, fast becoming my second home, to witness one of the old school powerhouses of 60s/70s rock. Terry Reid has made his way over from the Sunkissed paradise of California to brave the rain soaked region of South Manchester, but despite the downpour, many consider this a must see event. To some, the name may be a little benign, but make no mistake about it, this is a man who back in the 60s and 70s was very highly regarded, prompting the legendary Aretha Franklin to state, “There are only three things happening in London right now. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Terry Reid!” A statement highlighting just how talented and influential a musician/vocalist he is.
Before his arrival, The Blue Cat was treated to a rare individual performance from Gary Briggs, the former lead singer/guitarist of ‘Haven’, a brilliant indie rock band that graced the 2000s. The Blue Cat was once their sanctuary and he was welcomed back with open arms, if only to play a short set that consisted of classic ‘Haven’ numbers, ‘Say Something’ and ‘Keep on Giving in.’ With any luck we hope to see the original four perform in the future. We eagerly watch this space! The place had become filled with several old rockers, those lucky enough to be part of a magical, pivotal era in musical heritage, and they are waiting for one of the initial pioneers to polish the stage. Terry Reid’s history in music is littered with gold, full of collaborations with legends like Graham Nash, as well as envious supporting roles with iconic bands such as ‘Rolling Stones’, ‘Fleetwood Mac’, and ‘Cream’, amongst several others. If that wasn’t impressive enough, he’s also been a session artist working with the likes of ‘Don Henley’, ‘Jackson Browne’, and ‘Bonnie Raitt’. Over the years, his songs have been covered numerous times by high profile artists like ‘Marianne Faithfull’, ‘Cheap Trick’ and ‘REO Speedwagon’, and are still covered by more modern bands today such as ‘The Raconteurs’ with ‘Jack White’. Already this is mind blowing stuff, but more notable of his talents is that he was asked by Jimmy Page to front the ‘The New Yardbirds’ which eventually became the monstrous, ‘Led Zeppelin’. Reid declined as he’d already committed to tour with ‘Cream’, but in doing so recommended a young Robert Plant to take the lead instead. How different the course of music history could’ve been if that event hadn’t transpired. ‘Reasons for Seasons’ so some say!
With an array of superbly crafted guitars glistening behind him, nearly rivalling a ‘Dawsons’ store collection, Terry Reid appears onstage to a warm reception, opening with a song about New Orleans and the aftermath of the tragedy of ‘Hurricane Katrina’. For a man that has been through every age of rock, you’d expect his voice to possibly wane, but there’s something about this particular breed of musician/vocalist from this era, they simply do not lose their soul! His thumping, wailing bluesy vocal nearly brings the roof down, displaying so much power that we tremble at every elongated howling note. The guitar work sounds immense, therapeutically loud, played with such slow precision and purpose.
Every song in the set has a story attached, and before each one is played he tells us tales of how they were written. Songs such as ‘Bend in the River’, ‘Brave Awakening’ as well of a host of tracks off 1976 classic album, ‘Seed of Memory’ are played to an appreciative audience. The songs continue, and the guitar playing remains at the very highest level. His approach is unhurried, intricate and abstract, effortlessly cool and razor sharp, creating very distinct sounds such is the worth of all the guitars on show. All the songs are ballad type concoctions, similar to slow southern ballads associated to ‘Neil Young’ or ‘Crosby, Stills, & Nash’. He plays with a joking glint in his eye and a roguish laughter to wipe away any seriousness in the tone of the lyrics. There’s a swashbuckling, mischievous aura surrounding him with a likeness to Keith Richards, which is apparent whilst playing as his face is playfully animated, pulling all types of quirky poses that are met with short bursts of hoarse laughter at the end of a line in particular verses.
He eventually ends with album title track, ‘Seed of Memory’, before being hauled back by the crowd for a brief encore. It was a fantastic performance, truly imposing, showing his vast experience in live music. He displayed all the qualities of a man who has been there and done it, demonstrating exactly why he was asked to front ‘The New Yardbirds’ as well as having the honour of supporting legendary acts. The brilliant thing is that the passion and talent is still there after all these years, and that’s why he continues to collaborate with younger artists such as ‘Rumer’, showing just how respected his knowledge and experience are. The voice may be a little huskier and hoarser, but it remains impressively compelling to say the least. Any young solo artist would do well to learn from a man who is still withstanding the test of time, and who’s music can still attract a younger audience.