Robbie Gladwell

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If the audience didn’t appreciate how special this night was, then I’m sorry but they are dead inside: experience & talent with a touch of youth.

Robbie Gladwell (Google him – I’m not wasting word count on your lack of musical education) at The Prince of Wales with his uber talented musician friends having a jam. The group tonight consisted of youngster Harry Greene (sax & guitar), Alan Carruthers (bass), James Digings (drums), Clive Lock (sax & guitar), the ever-lovely Julie Gladwell (vocals and percussion) and a few tracks with guester Brian Butler (trombone) sneaking into the mix.

I got there early and heard the sound check…I knew I was in for a good night with that level of experience in the room! At a guess, there was probably well over 250 years of musical know-how and talent, and I’m not meaning to offend with that statement, but instead trying to paint the picture of how much experience just oozed off the stage. Old school musicians whose life of gigging gives them a level of sophistication that can’t be touched.

250 years…. but did someone say that Clive Lock is 62? Blimey – please tell me what moisturiser he uses as I need to get some!

The set list was short, but the actual set was long. This is because every track went on for so much longer than intended. Get a group of musicians together who are enjoying the gig and they don’t want it to end either, so they carried on playing the tracks. Robbie is generous to the guys in his band, there are seemingly no egos on the stage as every instrument gets plenty of air time, and more than once. Robbie brings them into the track and allows them to just…. play. It’s a pleasure to listen.

We had a jazzy/funk ‘Summertime’ with two saxes – forget Duelling Banjo’s, this is Duelling Saxophones: Harry with his fresh, youthful incredible talent and Clive with his, well…. his magic. I doubt I’ll hear this version ever again, it was an absolute honour. 

‘Try a Little Tenderness’ with a smooth jazz feel with a touch of swing and amazing guitar from Harry – it started almost acoustically then each instrument was brought in as the song built. Fabulous.

‘First Cut is the Deepest’ showing Julie’s versatility and being able to swap to a female vocal for several tracks gave diversity to the tracks.

‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ had Harry on guitar showing his skills. What’s his preferred instrument? At 21 he plays the guitar and the saxophone to a level someone twice his age. It was superb. 

‘Come Together’ was just full of amazing sax. We had a jazz version of ‘King of the Swingers’ with Brian on the trombone…what a treat.

Two other tracks to really mention, even though I could list them all: ‘Unchain My Heart’ was a funky version filled with slap bass from Alan – have you heard that one before? I totally loved it.

‘Hotel California’ was a time for Robbie to shine but he still gave time to Harry to show the audience how brightly he could shine too. 

Oh, and one more to gush about ‘Knock on Wood’…adored it. 

Every instrument on the stage was heard, applauded and involved. The middle instrumental part of every song was extended so Robbie could get everyone playing. There was sax, and double sax on tracks you wouldn’t have expected but was delightful. Clive’s sax was squealing the high notes, exactly as it should be. When Robbie was the only guitar he made it sound as though there were more.…I did have to actually check.

Each song was played in a way you’re not going to hear again – this was an old-school jam session that we were allowed to listen to.  The songs grew and developed and probably didn’t end up as rehearsed…or who knows  if they were ever rehearsed at all. This level of experience you don’t really need to put the time in, these guys know their shit. Robbie probably changed the set list just before he announced the next song, but they all carried on to wow the crowd.

Such a cracking night. 

Prince of Wales in Sudbury is a great pub on the corner which gives it a good shape. A small bar for the size, but it’s all about the space and when you’ve got a band in every Friday and Saturday night, you want people to enjoy the pub…. not the bar! They have a great stage area, dance floor and room towards the back for more people and a room at the back with a pool table. Friendly staff – it has all the elements required.

This review first appeared on GrapevineLIVE

Robbie Gladwell
The Prince of Wales


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