L-R: Andy Treacey (Drums), Adam Philips (Guitar/Vocals), Tom Robinson (Lead Vocals and bass), Lee Forsyth Griffith (Guitar/Vocals), Jim Simmons (Piano).
On a rainy night in south London I ventured out to Blackheath Halls to go and see the Tom Robinson Band, and boy am I glad I did.
I’m by no means a gig reviewer but I’ve made some notes.
Waiting in the bar I realised that quite a few of the fans knew each other. This is what happens when an artist like Tom Robinson has been going since 1977. His fans are loyal, and a friendly bunch, I felt made to feel like one of their own. Maybe it’s because The age mix was quite diverse, and the venue was packed.
Tom came out with the band, and they launched right into a really energetic version of “Winter Of 79”, it had me air guitaring! The crowd was loving it, and much as Tom refers to his age later in the show, he definitely gave it more gusto than artists half his age would. One thing I’d like to note here is that I like to keep an eye on how bands interact with each other, and these guys have a genuine affection you can tell when Tom gives Adam The Nod when he steps up to the plate for his solo. And boy did he play! All the musicians on the stage have a genuine affection for each other but this comes from working together for so long.
In between songs Tom tells stories, looking back on his time in folk trio Cafe Society to the heady days of putting together the Tom Robinson band, with old school friend Danny Kustow, the man that Tom credits with helping to define the sound of TRB, and without whom he couldn’t do what he does today. It was a lovely moment when he paid tribute to him.
For me, the standout numbers were Martin – if you ever go to a TRB concert this is where you will laugh and shout out en masse MARTIN on cue it’s very much a modern music hall kind of song, and even before the song had started people knew it was coming due to Tom’s references in the intro. He even said going around the world it still happens where people shout out the song at his concerts.
Another was Atmospherics Turn The Radio On which he dedicated to radio colleague Annie Nightingale who passed away recently, and that was a crowd pleaser.
War Baby is my favourite TRB song and I had to sing along – groove master Andy Treacey took to those drums with gusto, and I punched the air… what a song. Lee Forsyth Griffith brought a soulful touch to this in contrast to Tom’s bluesy rough vocals.
2468 Motorway – this was rowdy, as would be expected because it’s a crowd favourite as well as being Tom’s first hit in 1977.
Lee’s solo spot “Silence Is Dead”. I love Lee’s energy, and you can tell it was a favourite with the rest of the band too.
Show closer was “Only The Now” which is a song from Tom’s most recent album of the same name. This is a beautiful ballad that Tom wrote about his two children, who have now left home, and one thing I need to say is that Tom is many things but he’s a family man and the way he speaks about his wife Sue and those around him you can just feel the pride and it’s warm and infectious.
Honourable mention to the fact that the band played “Green Door” on cue from an audience suggestion.
All in all?
Tom Robinson – Bass/vocals
Adam Philips – Guitar/vocals
Andy Treacey – Drums
Lee Forsyth-Griffith – Guitar/vocals
Jim Simmons – Keyboards