Whisperin’ and Hollerin’ Review


‘Liverpool, The Zanzibar, 20th November 2010’- Genre: ‘Alt/Country’
Our Rating:
Many aspiring musicians might hope to be involved in one influential band along the way, but MIKE BADGER has already founded two groups (The La’s and The Onset) who have featured significantly in Liverpool’s Rock’n’Roll history.

Most folk would probably be content to sit back and let the plaudits drift in after that, but Mike has already rolled up his sleeves and formed his third great band, MIKE BADGER & THE SHADY TRIO, who – 25 years into his career – might just be the best of the three.

Amazingly, this laid-back show at the Zanzibar is only the band’s third, yet they play with an intuition and verve which suggests they’ve been working together for years. In a sense they have, as lead guitarist Barry Southern and double bassist Chris Marshall regularly join forces in the mighty, Roots-enhanced outfit The Loose Moose String Band, while drummer Ian Laney plays with them both in another of the city’s best kept secrets, Tramp Attack, who Mike Badger has produced. Are you keeping up with this? As I’ve said in previous reviews, they do things differently in Liverpool.

As a unit, The Shady Trio bring a shared love of all things Roots-Rock, Country and Rockabilly to the table and then inject healthy doses of under-valued qualities like passion and soul into the mix. They provide the perfect backdrop for Mike Badger’s vivid, descriptive songs and the grittily effective sound they forge is an absolute delight for the ears.

They have a full hour and a half’s worth of material ready to go, but while time constraints mean we’re only privy to 40 minutes of it tonight, every tune hits home gloriously, from Mike’s fatalistic, Man in Black train song ‘Platform 9’, to the stingin’ Hot Rod Rockabilly of ‘Shake It Up!’ and the breezy straight-ahead pop of ‘I Love My Love’.

The confidence is flowing as they launch into ‘For Who I Am”s elegant plea for understanding, while ‘Ghost Driver’ introduces a spooked, Handsome Family-style vibe which continues through the menacing ‘Drank by the Sand.’ The finale is provided in style courtesy of the regretful late-night country ballad ‘Everybody’s Drinking’ and the tequila-soaked Mariachi twists of ‘Adios Amigo.’

It all adds up to one of those gloriously rare evenings where simply wallowing in one fantastic song after another systematically destroys the need for criticism. It’s exemplary stuff and encapsulated beautifully in ‘The Ten Commandments of Rock’ when Mike cogently notes “if it does not purge the soul, it has no business to be called Rock’ n’ Roll.” Hallelujah. Pity the desperate haircuts adorning the NME’S cover week in and week out have forgotten that’s what it’s still all about.

Tim Peacock (Whisperin’ and Hollerin’)