Darrel Higham is probably one of the best-kept secrets of the rock’n’roll music scene. The reason? His name has always been shadowed by Imelda May, for whom he played for years. This great musician should be in the spotlight, but rockabilly as a genre still lacks the respect it deserves from the music industry.
The crowd wasn’t big enough to fill The Lantern, but the quiffs and the creepers were out in force. For Higham, playing in Bristol is special because it is a significant place in his idol Eddie Cochran’s history (it’s the city where he last performed before dying in a car crash).
Higham’s love for the late musician gave him the opportunity in the past to tour with Eddie Cochran’s band The Kelly Four, and he co-wrote a biography about his life. In the room, the spirit of Eddie Cochran glided over the audience and the resonant guitar riffs probably made him want to shake his head and tap his feet on the floor, like the rest of us.
The music started with The Blues, is the Blues: an explosive concoction of electric guitar, double-bass and drums. The middle section of the set was slow ballades such as When You Smile, a touching piece on which Higham collaborated with Jools Holland. It continued with Ghost of Love and Scary story – bouncy tunes that showed the frontman’s full range of singing skills. It ended on a high note with Turn Around & Go, Higham’s own favourite song on the latest album, Hell’s Hotel.
The gig was a fun night of top-quality rock’n’roll, ranging from Eddie Cochran covers to Darrel Higham’s own songs, with the audience carried away back in the 50s by killer guitar riffs and the strong energy flowing between the musicians on stage. It’s not a surprise to know that Higham’s skills led him to records with the likes of Jeff Beck and Chrissy Hynde. As THE rockabilly representative, he merits to be rocking all over the world.
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