Pirates at Coventry Jazz Festival - Report by Dave Gomm

Quite simply - Mick, John and Mike delivered a master-class in Coventry on a cold and windswept Bank Holiday Monday.


We travelled up early and found the venue in plenty of time.  Time enough for Big Bloke's third meal of the day and a couple of pints for me, anyway.  The area around the festival was pretty quiet at this point - even the pub we went in (which was the nearest one to the venue) was empty apart from us.  Not a good sign, we thought.  The wind was howling and the rain lashed the old cathedral ruins where the marquee was situated.  The friendly marshalls got us through to the backstage area, just as Michael Roach was marshalling his troops to go on.  With no sign of the Pirates yet we took seats out front and thoroughly enjoyed Michael's jazzy/blues set.  I can't remember seeing a band so relaxed and intent on enjoying themselves !  Full credit to the sound guys at this point - it's no easy task to mic up an 7-piece band with brass section in a tent with the wind howling around, but it was balanced quite beautifully.  Ray was sufficiently impressed to leg it off down the back to buy a copy of the current album.


Tony Mcphee is a legend in my book.  I've been to probably more Groundhogs gigs than Pirates gigs and I reckon he was the ideal act to go out before a hard-hitting band like the Pirates.  Die-hard fans like me will never tire of his earthy blues interpretations of Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters etc and I was pretty chuffed to hear him chuck Thank Christ for the Bomb into the mix as well.  He brought Joanna Deacon on for 2 or 3 songs, including a version of Joan Osborne's Pensacola and left to a smattering of polite applause from what seemed a pretty depleted audience.


We retired backstage again for a pre-gig chat with the band and for some photos with Tony Mcphee, whilst the crew set up Mike's hired-in kit.  Then on with the show. Suffice to say the usual set and banter won over an audience that was probably more intent on getting back home in the warm.  John, Mick and Mike drove the thing on relentlessly and proved there's plenty of life in the old machine, yet.  Certainly the (by their standards) glut of gigs over the past year, has brought the band closer together again and the set seemed much more polished than this time last year, for instance.  Mick looked happy to be there and riffed away wildly for the standard Baby Please Don't Go / Mayhem encore.


All in all, another great gig and very rewarding to see the band go down so well in a part of the country they are not noted for playing.   Thanks to the boys for a great day out, thanks to Ray and Anita for hosting/driving and thanks to my fabulous girlfriend Liesa for looking far better in my Pirates t-shirt, than I ever did.    




Dave Gomm