Concert Review – Steve ‘Big Man’ Clayton and the 44’s

Concert Review – Steve ‘Big Man’ Clayton and the 44’s

Words by Ben Macnair – Photography by Dave Jones

The popular boogie woogie and blues pianist Steve ‘Big Man’ Clayton bought his talented quartet to play at Lichfield Guildhall as part of his tour.
With a song-book that took from the classics of the genre, and some surprises, the ensemble of Steve “Big Man” Clayton on piano and vocal, guitarist and violin player Howard Gregory, double bassist Bob Boucher, and drummer Howard Smith, the evening was one of musical invention, audience participation, and foot-tapping tunes. Although the musicians were all very good players, they played together as a unit, with no grandstanding, and no songs out-staying their welcome.

Steve Clayton at Lichfield Guildhall

The songs included many from the early rock ‘n’ roll era, such as Shake,Rattle and Roll, or Blueberry Hill and Whole Lot of Shaking Going on, although there were older, oddities as well, such as Honky Tonk Train Blues which started off quickly, and only got faster,or Twilight Time by The Platters, which showed off the group’s talent as harmony singers. Songs from the rock genre also featured, including an inventive version of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love, whilst drummer Howard Smith led the ensemble through Little Walter’s My Babe and Sea Cruise by Frankie Vaughan.

Steve Clayton at Lichfield Guildhall

A sense of fun always occurs at a Steve Clayton gig, so although they are serious musicians, they are entertainers first and foremost, with the piano being played by Clayton’s feet during some of the songs, train noises from the audience during others, and audience participation throughout the show.

Steve Clayton at Lichfield Guildhall

The show was closed, and stolen by the band’s roof raising version of What I Say by Ray Charles, which featured everything from playing piano with the feet, contrapuntal piano, and energetic playing from the band.

Steve Clayton at Lichfield Guildhall

If you want a fun night out, with some seriously good musicians, Steve ‘Big Man’ Clayton and the 44’s always deliver.

Steve Clayton at Lichfield Guildhall

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