Rockin’ Rodents Go Mad

Saw the Hamsters on their Mad, Bad and Dangerous tour at the Putney Half Moon on Tuesday, with John Otway and Wilko Johnson in tow.

Great show, 19:45 to 23:10 with only one short break in proceedings to switch the drumkit around.

Otway’s set the usual mad guitar “virtuosity” exchanges with sidekick Rick, and milking his 20 year chart hits history for gags. Did everything except the “House of the Rising Sun” spoof, including disco hits “Burn Baby Burn” and “Crazy Horses”. Rick is a great comic foil in his own right, not just the straight man; Otway perhaps overdid the theremin on too many numbers there.

Wilko his usual thousand yard stare, staccato strutting and guitar machine-gunning (psycho-duck-walking) self with the wonderful Norman Watt-Roy on manic bass. Apart from the highlight “Back in the Night” I have to say I didn’t recognise many, at this distance of 28 years, perhaps Wilko’s voice is just a bit flat to do justice ? Entertaining sounds though.

Hamsters did what was for the most part their standard set – just crowdpleasers Banner / Watchtower and Sharp Dressed Man as you’d expect from their Hendrix / ZZ-Top repertoire. Hamsters highlight was a number I didn’t recognise – must enquire. Someone reminded me that it’s not just Slim’s guitar, but his voice that makes the Hamsters’ great sound.

The gig wasn’t quite Mad enough (Otway aside) – don’t know why but I expected more mayhem and integration of the personnel than distinct sets – highlights were Otway and Rick on stage with the Hamsters several times and finally the whole lot crammed on the small stage for a couple of numbers. Only quibble is that Slim’s amplification swamps the other two guitars, when all on together. Bunsen Burner, Born to be Wild, and a big hit from Norman’s past to conclude – if you don’t know it I won’t spoil it here. Finished on a real high.

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