They came, they rocked, they conquered, and now they’re about to storm down across England, Newcastle first. Ol’ Times gave Binkies another night never to be forgotten, talk about the passion, baby! Going on for three hours, until half past midnight – I had no prior knowledge of the extended time slot, so it came as a most excellent surprise!
The place was buzzing in anticipation, busy with folk trying to grab a good space to seeing the band, when in walked three beanpoles, skinny but wide-shouldered, they hovered about at the back looking around. They seemed harmless enough, but just a look between myself and the chap I was chatting to, we both already knew where they’d decide to stand, and indeed, just six foot from the stage!! Yes, I’ve ranted about this before, but jeez, come on! They stood like a mini mountain range with peaks around 6’6″, the folks immediately behind had no chance of seeing anything. And breathe.
I had my eye on a good side spot which I sidled into once the band were onstage doing the soundcheck. I had a fresh pint of Stewart’s Harlequin (another good brew from them), I was ready. First song, Ol’ Times started with a bang, All The Way To The Top written just 28 days previous (I know this because Kai, the drummer, mentions it before he gets the crowd chanting). Straight into the classic Walking The Dog, sung by one of the guitarists Colm, how to keep the temperature rising!
It was during the first set that I noticed Gabriele’s voice reminding me of Marc Bolan, there was one song in particular where I really heard it. He is a brilliant frontman and whilst I’ve likened his singing to others, Gabriele has a unique voice with a mischievous edge that immediately entranced me from the first time I heard it.
The band were obviously enjoying themselves, having a blast, as much as the crowd were. We got sleazy rock, funky beats, rolling jams; all delivered with easy, laidback confidence and irresistible charm. Think Bad Company but take out all the so-seriousness and angstiness and add some of the nonchalance of early AC/DC aussie boogie woogie (the start of Give It To Me is so this).
The second set included a real blast from the past for me, Come On In My Kitchen, apparently they used to play it regularly but hadn’t for about a year until that afternoon when they were busking. As it was back in their consciousness, the band picked it up and made a tasty bluesy jam with it. I’ve since dug out The Joker by The Steve Miller Band from my record collection (side 2 track 3), well, I had to give it a spin! It’s the only other time I’ve heard it, used to love howling along with it (check it out, you’ll get why). Apparently it’s an old Robert Johnson song; that’s my one thing learnt today!
The jams got longer in the second set, Gabriele just put words to them on the spot, a true showman, and as is traditional there was a drum solo, two words that used to strike fear and boredom into many hearts, but, I dunno, have the new generations of drummers figured out something the previous didn’t? I enjoy them now, and Kai doing that thing (as the band call it), oh my, ’tis a fine thing to behold. The crowd vibed along with the grooves, I don’t think anyone wanted the music to end, if Whistlebinkies had a beating heart it would’ve been stolen by Ol’ Times last Friday night.
Tonight Ol’ Times are in Geordieland, that’ll definitely be one mighty fine time for all. One word of advice to anyone planning to see Ol’ Times as they head south, take a pen so you can get the guys to sign their CD (you’ll be wanting to buy one be the end of the gig!) as they probably won’t have remembered to have pens with them. These guys are definitely gonna be big so catch them now if you can!
I’ll leave you with shots from Friday night in Binkies, no, I didn’t manage to get a clear pic of the bassist, sorry!