Friday Night Live on March 16 at the Ypres Inn in Rye featured a revivified AS IS belting out a rock and pop melange to a highly receptive and energetic crowd.
AS IS is a four piece comprising Richard “Boot” Kingsman on guitar, Sally Ballet on lead vocals and percussion with a rhythm section consisting of Tony Gainsborough on drums and Michel Duvoisin on bass and backing vocals.
The first song was a Pretender’s ‘feminist’ hit “Brass in Pocket”, added late, and possibly directed at the girl power in the room, proof positive of the band’s claim that they tailor their music to the audience’s proclivities. The band then followed with the Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan written Stealers Wheel song “Stuck in the Middle with You”. I do love my Paisley pastiche folk and country rock.
Next came a Mark Ronson/Amy Winehouse cover of “Valerie” by the Zutons followed by “Wide Awake” which encouraged more dancing and the Beatles “Can’t Buy me Love” had the floor filled again with dancing women who I swear were twisting.
“What if God Was One of Us” slowed the pace a tad and segued into “Wonderwall” and “Hand In My Pocket” which elicited some energetic posturing and gesturing in the chorus from even more dancers.
The 70s decade was nicely bracketed by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Police with “Get Back”, “Brown Sugar” and “Message in a Bottle”. It is remarkable how that introductory Pavlovian cow bell percussion, also used by Sally on “Honky Tonk Women” in the second set, got them up and at it on the dance floor. There were men dancing by then. Honest.
The second set was introduced with a well-rehearsed and consummate rendition of “Love Shack” which just further fired up the dancers. Toploader’s version of “Dancing in the Moonlight” is just such a happy song and I defy anyone not to bop to “Bad Moon Rising” released in 1969. Another segue to “The Summer of ’69”, Bryan Adams’ 80’s allusion to something completely different.
The band produced a nicely balanced version of The Police song “So Lonely” allowing Boot Kingsman to put in some excellent solo guitar work against a reggae groove which got the crowd going – again.
One note of reservation if only to avoid derision in Private Eye’s Pseuds Corner or membership of the Fast Show’s Jazz Club, Sally Ballet has a superb voice with a nicely raw edge but she was having to work too hard to cut through the somewhat overpowering back line.
This audience led approach to their set was well received, and not surprisingly the crowd, including a sprinkling of oldies among the millennials, were twisting the night away to The Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” with the encore “I Saw Her Standing There”.
The final song of the evening was Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll”. The band has not been gigging for some time, “its been a long time since they rock and rolled” so let us hope indeed they “get it back”.
The highlight of the gig for me was the Free hard rock classic “ All Right Now”. AS IS gave a masterclass in how to wind up a rock and roll crowd. I have always revelled in the interplay between the driving bass riff and the weaving lead guitar in the extended break down solo and Michel and Richard did it justice.
AS IS strolled through Friday Night at the Wipers and if I have whetted your appetite you can experience them at The Queen’s Head in The Landgate on May 12 at 9pm.
Photo: Gerard Reilly