The Bodega, Northampton

Wille And The Bandits

When the weather is cold and frightful…go to your local venue and watch live music. Oh that isn’t how it goes? Well it doesn’t matter, because when Britain’s famous weather beats down and you find yourself only half way through the week, The Bodega seems like a metropolis to inhabit for the evening. Tonight’s headliners are no overnight success story, as Wille and the Bandits have battled for their place as an accomplished touring outfit through relentless annual schedules including support slots for the likes of Joe Bonamassa, John Butler Trio, Status Quo and Deep Purple, along with an array of festivals of all shapes and sizes in the Summer.

Stand alone support, Mark Black supplies a welcome opening to the evening through his offering of stripped down melodic vibes, interchanging with twelve string infused stomping blues roots, delivered by one man, one guitar, a stomp box and a didgeridoo. I could certainly see him flourishing with a backing band, but it seems that his lone-wolf persona on stage and hearty sound he conjures up is enough to leave a mark. Although there is little differentiation in his set, his talent and distinguished vocal quality hints at certain potential, so who knows what’s in store for his future.

After spending years on the road, Wille and the Bandits emerge in a no nonsense fashion. There’s no pretentious intro track or dry ice mysteriously rising from the floor, as this band (as always) are here for one reason; to perform. Seamlessly varying the dynamics of the evening, they manage to work the subtle charm of the likes of ‘Mammon’ and the ballad-like ‘Gonna Watch You Grow’ alongside the tearing, delay driven riffs of ‘Gypsy Woman’ and ‘Jack The Lad’. It seems that over the many years of seeing this band perform, they have always been incredibly tight performers, but it seems the final level of finesse which has been missing in the past has crept its way into their set.

Willie And The Bandits

Although their lengthy instrumental work can sometimes send the mind into a daze, their captivating potency in their heavier material consistently grips the attention of every eye in the house. Closing with the almost hallucinogenic ‘Angel’, the spellbound crowd begs for an encore of their redefining cover of ‘Money For Nothing’ to draw a close to a special performance. It goes without saying that their display was an utter triumph and an indication that after many years, it seems that an old dog can learn new tricks.


Words by George Fullerton

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