After a quick hour-long train ride down to the capital on a pleasantly warm, and for once, dry Tuesday afternoon, we ventured across town to the pre-gig entertainment which consisted of a visit to Somerset House, home to an exhibition of photography celebrating 50 years of The Rolling Stones, very good it was too, and, amazingly, free to enter!
Next up was a scrumptious meal in Chinatown, and then onward to Soho and eventually downward into the cellar that is the PizzaExpress Jazz Café. Any venue that boasts a corporate sponsor as part of its name always fills me with a little dread, as big business and art do not make natural bedfellows, but as I later discovered this now global chain has supported jazz at its intimate Dean Street venue since 1969, my worries were completely unfounded.
These small niggles were more than compensated for by some blistering playing by the highly experienced ensemble. Drummer John Marshall and bassist Roy Babbington, now both the other side of 70 kept things flowing with a dexterity belying their age. John's drum solo after the cacophonous The Relegation Of Pluto, a tune from Theo Travis's Double Talk album, was a jazz percussionists dream, subtlety and power flowing seemingly effortlessly from his wrists.
The second part of the evening also starred Theo's live debut on a piano on Black and Crimson (I think), playing a distinctly Steven Wilson-like chord sequence, if my ears did not deceive me. The set ended on a rocking version of John E's Pump Room, before the obligatory encore, this time a spacious and funky rendering of Gesolreut, a song now almost 40 years old, not that you'd know it.
Sometimes the best gigs are those attended at short notice, and this was definitely one of those. A storming night - thanks for having that coffee, Phil W!