Ronnie Hawkins




live review


London Mean Fiddle

RONNIE HAWKINS has been performing rock'n'roll' for 30 years and it shows. He has a face of grey whiskers, wears shades and a cowboy hat as he fronts a band half his age, one of whom is his son. Between songs he's given to drawling “here’s a song I wrote a 1000 years ago and recorded in '58... or '59”. Midway through the set he hands the vocal spot to his guitarist and retires to the rear to lean against a pole and check his pulse.

Some of Hawkins' still surviving early contemporaries from the Southern USA have come to be termed ambassadors of rock'n'roll. Within this criteria Ronnie Hawkins lacks diplomacy – he's a courier of rock'n'roll rather than anything more stately. His talent is not as an orginator but as an interpreter of other's compositions, instilling into the material a spirit of earthy raunch and downright sleaze.

The biggest cheer of the night was for his famous draft of ‘Mary Lou’ and the rendition matched expectations. Ditto ‘40 Days’ and his segue of Bo Diddley’/’Who Do You Love’. Against this, I don't think I was the only soul to be seriously non plussed by a Chuck Berry medley or a version of ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy’ swamped by a psychedelic guitar solo.

Back in Canada, where he's lived since the '60s, Hawkins apparently embraces a rootsy brand of country music, although sometimes lapses into MOR to pay the bills. One gets the feeling that this British tour, with its reliance on the best known '60s material, was simply a tickling of the die hard fans' gills. For the uncommitted and the under 35s it's enjoyable enough, but hardly spellbinding and hence, perhaps, an indication of why Hawkins' status in r'n'r circles is more 'cult' than fully blown 'legendary'.


mick sinclair

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