Paul Barrere & Fred Tackett, The Cluny Newcastle

The last time Paul Barrere & Fred Tackett played in the North East, I had a gig with Black River Blues and I have a rule I made for myself many years ago that I don’t cancel gigs (except in very extreme circumstances). We had an awful gig, I remember, and I was thinking all of the way through “Paul & Fred are playing half an hour away”.

When I saw that they were playing here again, I really wanted to go but couldn’t really afford to go. Eventually I decided I’d treat it as an early Christmas present to myself. Once I’d decided I was going, I wondered if I could do more than just go to the gig. I know a few folks around the band, so after a few emails were sent off, I was invited to the soundcheck to meet Paul & Fred and to interview Paul Barrere. Colour me very happy!

So last Thursday night I went to the gig early, and a little nervously, to wait the arrival of the minibus. Before too long it turned up, driven by Gary Spires and accompanied by his partner Emma, who are tour managing the last 5 dates of this tour. I’d met them briefly before at a Little Feat gig in Wolverhampton and we’ve had email conversation too. Then Chris Cafiero, Little Feat archivist climbed out with a big grin. Chris and I have been in touch via email and CD Trading for about 12 years, but this was the first time we had met. What a great and dedicated guy! Chris does his best to record every show by Little Feat and the Paul & Fred duo, or get recordings sent to him. He administers the Little Feat website and the excellent Featbase too, where you can get all the information you need about Little Feat.

Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett, with his lovely wife Patricia, then got out of the bus. With handshakes all round, we got out of the cold night air into The Cluny. I spent some time talking with Gary, Emma and Chris while Paul & Fred got sorted for the soundcheck. After the soundcheck, Paul came up and asked if I was ready for the interview. I was, indeed! We went outside so Paul could have a ciggy and, after a quick check of levels on the Edirol recorder I’d borrowed, off we went, with Chris Cafiero capturing the whole thing on video for the archives. Paul was very easy to talk to, and if you press the play button down there, you can hear the interview while you read the rest of this. (ignore my inane comments and interjections – and my attempts to prove to Paul how cool I am – the rest of it isn’t bad for my first interview, I don’t think.)

Back inside after the interview, Gary was ordering food for the band, so I ordered a sandwich and had it delivered with the rest of the food to a little area upstairs. I sat with Paul, Gary & Emma and two other Feat fans, Steve & Des, while we ate, and listened to Paul chat about Feat, Lowell George, Jamaica,albums past and present, politics and much more. It was a great relaxing time before the gig and I felt privileged to be there.

Before too long a queue started to form near to where we were sitting and Paul and Fred were very gracious when asked for autographs.

The doors opened shortly after and I joined the queue to get my ticket and go inside. The opening act was Otis Gibb, and I’ll do a separate post about him soon – but he was very good.

Almost as soon as he had finished, Paul & Fred came on stage to check their gear (no teams of roadies on this trip!) and then left briefly before being introduced to the waiting, expectant crowd. After a brief introduction, there they were, and kicked off with “Ain’t Had Enough Fun” from the album of the same name. I don’t have a setlist, though I’m sure it’ll appear online very soon, but all of the favourites were played – Two Trains, Sailin’ Shoes, Roll Um Easy, Dixie Chicken, an awesome Skin It back and much much more. The band were joined onstage by local blues musician Gypsy Dave Smith, who had opened for the duo on the Scottish leg of the tour in the previous week. He sang and played a blues accompanied by Paul & Fred and then they (and the audience too) all sang Willin and, of course, the Jamaican National Anthem, Don’t Bogart That Joint. Gypsy Dave left the stage and Paul & Fred just kept on playing with the 100 strong audience loving every minute of it. We got songs from Fred, too, including a great Goldtoothed Woman written by Tennessee Williams a long time ago.

Eventually the fun had to end, though and after 2 (or was it 3?) encores, the show was over.

Paul & Fred came out to chat to folks and sign CDs, etc. As the crowd dwindled, I took the opportunity to chat to Fred a little, then prepared to make my farewells.

I followed the party back to the minibus and shook hands and had hugs, with promises of keeping in touch and hopefully meeting up next time. Then off into the cold night, with me a very very happy guy.

I managed to record the first 25 minutes of the show on the Edirol before I ran out of storage space, and the next day when I listened it sounded awesome! I’ll get a copy of Chris Cafiero’s recording of the show when he gets back home – he had a load of gear with microphones and a feed out of the desk, as well as his video and stills camera. The photo above is the only decent shot I got on a borrowed camera.

Roll on the next time!


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