Country Music Week — Duane Eddy twangs the London Palladium — ****

The London Palladium buzzed with anticipation as “Mr Country” Bob Harris introduced two of his favourite acts. Firstly, his protégé the Liverpudlian singer-songwriter Robert Vincent and later his good friend Duane Eddy.

Vincent kicked off proceedings with a new song My Neighbour’s Ghost. You’ve got to have some confidence to debut at the Palladium with a new song. Vincent delivered a fine set backed by drums, double bass and electric guitar.

I was introduced to Duane’s music at an early age by my father. He listened to it a lot” commented Vincent. The beautiful So In Love saw his guitarist seemingly giving a nod to Eddy with some extra twangy guitar licks.

Other tracks included November “a good old-fashioned murder ballad.” and the title of his latest album, I’ll Make The Most Of My Sins You may have noticed I don’t like happy songs.”

Robert Vincent. Photo credit: Chaz Brooks

Finishing with the powerful and emotional Demons Vincent showed exactly why he is so highly regarded as one of the UK’s top singer-songwriters. Strong stuff indeed and brilliantly performed.
Accompanied by drums, bass, keys, guitar and sax, and in his eightieth year, Duane Eddy came on stage to a warm reception from the Palladium audience. This was destined to be a big slice of popular music history.

Eddy proceeded to rattle and roll his way through a set comprising of 24 tracks. Scheduled to play for an hour and a quarter he played for an additional half an hour. He began where it began for him with Movin’ and Groovin’ that gave him his break in 1957.

The hits came thick and fast, there was Cannonball with its Bo Diddley beat, The Lonely One right out of a Western move set. Special guest Bruce Welch of the Shadows assisted with Shazam and then Eddy said “Anyone like the blues? I do”, recounted the story when he had played with Jerry Lee Lewis in Oakland and was congratulated afterwards by BB King, and played Three-30 Blues.

Duane Eddy. Photo Credit: Chaz Brooks

Ramrodan old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll song” was followed by a “rock ‘n’ roll ballad” First Love First Tears. Backing singers joined him for Play Me Like You Play You Guitar and the derivative Boss Guitar.

Richard Hawley joined on rhythm for a rocking Memphis Tennessee and a storming Keep A Knocking. Blueberry Hill and My Blue Heaven sure sounded good.

At this stage, as if he hadn’t twanged enough already, Eddy brought on a beast of an instrument, a shiny new six string bass guitar made specially for him by his “friends at Gretsch” which is now commercially available. This is tuned an octave lower than a normal guitar. Eddy has lost none of his skill and dexterity and his behind the beat timing is exquisite.

Imelda May joined for two numbers, the beautiful Tennessee Waltz and a sensational Rollin’ and Tumblin’. Alas she was gone too soon, but this was Eddy’s night to shine, and shine he did.

Peter Gunn, later of Blues Brothers fame and his monster hit Rebel Rouser closed the main set and the encore of Some Kind Of Earthquakethe shortest ever song in the Top 40 at One minute and Seventeen seconds” and the raucous blues jam Hard Times produced a standing ovation for the Titan of Twang.

The London Palladium was a fitting venue for this guitar legend who has been an influence on countless guitarists for the past sixty years.

Words by Chaz Brooks

Duane Eddy and Imelda May at London Palladium.
Photo Credit: Chaz Brooks

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