GIG: Dick Dale
Date: Friday 2nd April 2010
Venue: The Luminaire Club, Kilburn, London
Cost: £22.50
Rating: Truly the King of Surf Guitar


This was a highly anticipated gig, with the Luminaire’s website stating it was a sell out, and as we drove past in search of parking slot off the Kilburn High Road, we saw an orderly queue already formed ahead of the club’s doors opening at 8pm.

The support act was a 3 piece rock instrumental group from Philadelphia, Stinking Lizaveta. Their songs started with quite a surf guitar sound and ended with the gentle crescendo of cymbals, as if the surf was gently washing against the shore, and in between was a quite heavy, almost Black Sabbath sound. Not really our cup of tea.

During the Stinking Lizaveta set, the club was gradually filling and by the time the support had twanged their last note, the space from stage to the bar was filled solid with bodies.

Dick Dale took to the stage at about 9.50 and started what was a storming, bitchin’ 90 minute set which included an incredible “Ghost Riders In The Sky”, “Smoke On The Water” and “House of the Rising Sun” which had the audience singing back at Dick. He had not done a sound check so there was a bit of banter as Dick taught the sound engineer the “old school” needs of just a bit of bass, bit of treble and a bit of volume, before he got sexy with the gals at the front and then did a great “Ring of Fire” in homage to Johnny Cash. He also did a little wordy tribute to the memory of John Peel.

A set list did not exist, and Dick very much improvised and mixed songs whilst being the coolest guy in the venue, strolling around the stage playing his Fender Strat. “Let’s Go Trippin’” went down a storm, as did a tune where he played the harmonica fantastically (after professing to not know how to play it!) and another tune with a trumpet, which was very Louis Armstrong influenced. In fact, not only was his trumpeting Louie like, he did a fine vocal impersonation too.

There was also a running joke going with the bassist about him being fined $5 for basically not being able to read Dick's mind every time he went into a totally unreheased number. Dick also proved himself to be a bit of a racontour throughout the gig. That comes with playing so many gigs in such a long career.

“Hey Bo Diddley” was a particular highlight, with Dick taking up a spot alongside his drummer, and proceeding to do a fabulous tribal drums duet and ending up playing Sammy’s bass guitar with the drum sticks. This man was amazing.

There was no way the crowd was going to let Dick leave the stage without “Miserlou” and sure enough that ever so famous tune was played which had everyone stomping.

The final tune of the night was introduced after Dick thanked the crowd, and told them “you are my medicine”, a rather poignant remark given his recent battle with cancer which he seems to have won, and a remark which brought tears to Minty’s eyes. His rendition of “Amazing Grace” was just that – amazing. An incredible choice to end the night.

He left the stage to enormous applause and within minutes was back out among the crowd, giving his time generously, very kindly agreeing to have his picture taken with many of the audience and also signed photos.

This was probably the best gig of the year so far. The atmosphere was absolutely electric; some of the audience were dressed in 50’s style, with great quiff hairdos. The Beeb felt as if he could have been wandering around the set of “Grease” for a while!

Dick was a great personality on stage and the crowd loved him. He was totally amazing, as was his drummer (Brian) and his bassist (Sammy) and the sound was great.
One can only believe Dick when he explained that he'd never end his days in a wheelchair in a nursing home, and that he intends to blow up into a thousand pieces on stage during a gig. What a great attitude to have.

The Luminaire is a great venue too. It’s small enough to be a really intimate gig and frowns on people chatting over the music (which is a great policy to have!). The club encourages graffiti in their loos, and Minty even spotted a bit of graffiti promoting The Dotted Line, a band fronted by Scott Bennett, a member of Brian Wilson’s amazing band.

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