There were a couple of things you could see in Bill Wyman, playing the Mohegan Sun casino m Uncasville Tuesday, that you'd never see when he played 30 years with his old band, the Rolling Stones.
One was all those notes he played on his bass, providing the backbone to jaunty jump blues, swing and rock that made up the repertoire of his 10 piece band, the Rhythm Kings. The other thing was his smile.
As a Stone, he almost appeared to be stone-like on stage: impassive, glum, unmoving. With his new band, he was clearly enjoying the proceedings.
A casual, fun project band in England for five years, during which three albums were recorded, the Rhythm Kings were making their second US appearances on their maiden North American tour. We1l-oiled by a European festival stint, the group didn't have trouble getting into the groove.
Wyman, 64, appearing on his first Connecticut stage since the Stones played a surprise show at Toad's Place 12 years ago Monday, doesn't sing with his band, although he once did.
Instead, he leaves it to any number of his band mates, several of whom came from storied careers of their own. Georgie Fame, after backing Van Morrison for years, sang a lot of lead from his B-3 organ.
On the other end of the stage, Gary Brooker of Procol Harum, looking elegant in his swept-back white hair, played more rock 'n' roll edge than he once did, embodying classics by Little Richard and Ray Charles.
And Albert Lee, a longtime sideman to Eric Clapton, did a remarkable job on guitar with his speedy, effortless runs on rockabilly and country western nuggets.
Opposite him, jazz guitarist Martin Taylor was a worthy counterpart; they collaborated on a memorable duel on Tear It Up that did.
Flashes of the Stones would pop up, in quotes by a saxman or in a Satisfaction intro of the bandleader. But the only real Stones song was an R & B take on the Black and Blue song Melody between Fame and featured singer Beverly Skeete.
What shone through from the band's playing so much classic American music – from Louis Jordan to JJ Cale – was how thoroughly British it was.
By embracing the nuggets with such verve, you could see how excited they still were about the music that originally inspired them in postwar England, where their enthusiasm eventually led to the triumph of the British Invasion.
Thanks to Kerry Holloway who sent this review from the Hartford Courant newspaper of the Rhythm Kings concert at the Wolf Den of the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT. He writes, 'Uncas was a famous chief of the Mohegan tribe which lived along the Thames River before the first settlers arrived here to settle).
'The Wolfden is an area at the center of the casino floor with a large outcropping of rocks that includes a stage and a built in large projection TV system. There is a sunken floor with tiered levels around the stage all with tables.
'I attended the concert on August 7. The concert began at seven but I waited in line (a very long line) from about 4 in the afternoon. The concert was free. I was able to get a table in the front row, right in front of Gary's piano. A wonderful evening. A truly remarkable band, tight, talented and having a great time together. But, of course, we all know who was the star of the show. The concert lasted 90 minutes, a little shorter than some of the others that have been reviewed. A truly fun evening!'
More Rhythm Kings information here
Wyman / Brooker interview excerpts here.
Bill Wyman talks to Record Collector about Gary Brooker