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Great Review.


With no support band tonight, the evening’s proceedings got under way with some tasty Jazz shuffling in the form of ‘No Pleasin'’ from the 1997 ‘Bread & Circuses’ album. With the musicians suitably warmed up it was straight on with two newer tracks, the mid-tempo rocker ‘First in Line’ and the R&B tinged ‘Need Somebody’ from the 2022 ‘Restoration’ album; with lyrics by the late great Pete Brown who sadly passed away in May 2023. The time came to dip back into the fabulous 60s for the elegantly tranquil ‘Elegy’, after which Farlowe was gifted a well-earned break from singing while the rest of the band dived into the majestic sixteen-minute epic that is the ‘Valentyne Suite’: ‘January's Search’, ‘February's Valentine’ and ‘The Grass Is Always Greener’, as featured on the band’s second album ‘Valentyne Suite’ released in 1969. An outstandingly breathtaking performance that had the audience well and truly transfixed! With no break between sets it was straight on to the up-tempo rocker ‘Story of the Blues’ from the 2022 ‘Restoration’ album. A superb track that laid the ground for some enthrallingly vibrant guitar and saxophone solos.
Taking to the mic, Clarke enthusiastically introduced the next track they were going to play ‘Call It Stormy Monday but Tuesday Is Just as Bad’ only to be told by Clempson that they were in fact going to play ‘Walking in the Park’ (The Graham Bond Organisation cover) instead! Undeterred the band zealously launched into the performance of this song with unbattered determination and vigour. The energy levels were in top gear with each band member locked in and clearly having a ball!
Clarke, a formidable powerhouse singer in his own right, got the chance to take lead vocals for a few verses on the riff heavy ‘A Cowboy's Song’ from the 2022 ‘Restoration’ album. An electrifyingly groovy rendition! Being that Colosseum are affectionally known as a Jazz/Blues Rock band, they exhibited their improvisation skills to the max on ‘Stormy Monday Blues’ (T-Bone Walker cover). Farlowe was having much fun impressing us with his expressively quirky vocal improvisational scats. If that wasn't mind blowing enough the mammoth ‘Lost Angeles’ from the 1971 ‘Colosseum Live’ album dazzled us further and completed the main portion of the set. A truly mesmerising track that sees Clempson taking his inventive guitar solos to new dizzying heights. A big shout out must go to Nick Steed for his remarkably dextrous Hammond flourishes. For the encore Farlowe gave it his all on ‘Theme for an Imaginary Western’ (Jack Bruce cover) from the 1970 ‘Daughter of Time’ album. He might be eighty-three, but he shows no signs of slowing down or taking it easy. Chris’s voice is still as deep and soulful as ever it was! Long may he continue.

Steven C. Gilbert

­­­Colosseum in the Gütersloh Weberei:

„The new guys have given us wonderful adrenalin shots!“

When a year ago, Colosseum rocked their debut the garden of the Hamburg Downtown Blues Club with their new line-up, it was already more than “We’re still playing!“ Proof that the Canadian exile Kim Nishikawara (sax), his Manchester-based neighbour Nick Steed on organ, synth and piano as well as Gentle Giant drummer Malcolm Mortimer could fill the footsteps of Colosseum founder Jon Hiseman, of Dick Heckstall-Smith, Barbara Thompson and the non-touring Dave Greenslade streamed out of P.A. speakers. There were even new numbers from an album started before Covid. Nobody spoke of unfulfilled potential.

Flash tot he late summer of ‘22 in Gütersloh‘s Weberei. Who’d have thought that the sextett achieved even more room at the top during the current tour – this is sizzling! „The three new guys are giving us geben uns wonderful adrenalin-shots“, bassist and singer Mark Clarke enthuses minutes before the show. Guitarist Clem Clempson points out how much fun he has during stage rapport with Steed, Mortimer & Nishikawara. „Kim gives me goose pimples every night“, Clarke assists, and their mighty lead singer Chris Farlowe, almost 82, nods in agreement, already in rhythm with the imminent start:

Boogie! “No Pleasin‘“ from 1997‘s album BREAD & CIRCUSSES shuffles into a groove for fan participation. Plenty of breaks for jazz-rocky escapades by the new breed included. It turns out that Farlowe remains the Godfather in Colosseums, but gets vocally flanked more than ever by the co-pilots Clempson & Clarke. The tightly packed Weberei audience obviously enjoy their power & swing which belies the band’s average age.

„We’re here for the first time?“ Chris teases, knowing damn well that Colosseum played here in the Weberei in 2003 – still with Heckstall-Smith – and that he famously asked a rather selective audience at a GT-Solo-Gig in 1998: Did you all come in the same taxi?“

With “Story Of The Blues“, the band presents a stormy Nick Steed number with mit a strong sax theme – on the new album RESTORATION, which as Clempson knows is selling „shitloads of CDs“ – they should have opened a dancefloor next to the bar. “Need Somebody“ by Clarke hits us harder – „not typical for this band, but we love it“, Clempson points out, hitting a riff on his Gibson Les Paul which would have fitted his ex-band Humble Pie. „We all need someone“, Clarke explains his message, and along with his fluiden bass runs, he delivers an inspired vocal take that doesn’t pale next to Farlowe‘s.

Clempson will match this. After Farlowe‘s majestically performed “Rope Ladder To The Moon“, complete with Clem’s quotes from “Wish You Were Here“ and “Superstition“ einleitet, the axeman sings with his own new vocal power about global warming – “Hesitation – will get you nowhere“ is his take, rendered with great melody lines and an intensive band performance. Followed by the last numner before the intermission?

Relyx. Their “Valentyne Suite“ will be celebrated with joy for over 20 minutes – the five instrumentalists interacting intensively breathtaking: Leading light, keyboard player Nick Steed lets rotating speakers add to the riot, but sticks faithfully and skillfully to the 1969 original 1969 version, leaving enough headroom: expecially in the mid-song drum-groove, Clempson on his Gibson ES-335 and Nishikawara on soprano sax can let rip creatively on Clarke & Mortimer’s foundation.

Part two begins with Farlowe’s wicked smile and the tender Musical intro of „Willkommen, bienvenu, welcome“ from Cabaret, matched by Kim‘s sweaty nightclub sax. Clem starts the RESTORATION opener “First In Line“ – a driving number he introduces with an attractive guitar theme. Clempson‘s joy of playing gets humourous from time to time – suddenly we're treated to blood brother Jeff Beck‘s 1967 pop gimmick “Hi Hi Silver-Lining“, which leads the shuffling evergreen “Walking In The Park“ – in Colosseum’s set since 1968, whatever incarnation they were in.

Dartk, melancholy piano runs signal “Tonight“, a mesmerizing ballad by Clempson, written Scottish co-writer Ronnie Leahy – lyrics provided by Miller Anderson with moving thoughts about Barbara Thompson‘s and Jon Hiseman‘s love – one of the evening’s highlights! The mood remained bluesy, but with a chuckle: „I’ve lost my job“, Farlowe begins, and when they take away his car & TV, it’s obvious – this can only be the “Stormy Monday Blues“.

With another heartfelt heavy riff, Clempson introduces Mark Clarke‘s new “Cowboy’s Song“ about farewells and doubtful reunions, with strong call & response action by all three vocalists. After the Valentyne-Suite, “Lost Angeles“ shines as Colosseum‘s other mega epos – interpreted magnificently by a returning Farlowe, and pimped by Clempson with interesting interludes. Where he once included R&B quotes of Georgie Fame‘s “Yeh Yeh“, here he began er beatlesque: “Eleanor Rigby“. “She’s A Woman“ is yet another piece favoured by Jeff Beck, followed by the Kinks classic “You Really Got Me“, whose theme has to lead into “Sunshine Of Your Love“ by the unforgettable Colosseum cohort Jack Bruce and lyric writer Pete Brown. After Clem‘s intensive slide solo, it’s back to lost L.A.

The encore “Theme From An Imaginary Western“ is of course also courtesy of Bruce & Brown – Farlowe & Clarke share this dramatic ballad with vocal performances on an equal level, again with remarkable intensity; instrumental virtuosity shown by everybody. Clem Clempson appreciates the short-term organisation of this Gütersloher gig, and the gist of this tremendous evening can only be: This sextet still counts – lots of dates are already booked for  2023, including an tour.No doubt: Their „RESTAURATION“ is a resounding success!

Uli Twelker

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