Reviews: An Evening with Steve 'Boltz' Bolton
At St Mary's Hall, Whitstable, 16th March 2013
With 'Sid' the giant mirror ball skull gently rotating above us and bouncing light around St Mary's Hall, seeming like a talisman for the light and dark aspects of true rock music, there was a palpable air of buzzing anticipation in the hall below which had been transformed for the night into a magical night club, as we waited to hear Steve's promised tales of a life spent on the the high rock'n'rolling waves.
Intoduced warmly and in hilarious fashion by the comedian/actor Stephen Frost, suddenly looking and being the essence of rock Steve was there, and starting with the yearning and beautiful song Wild Wind by John Leyton , a hit fom the early sixties ... when so many young lads first picked up guitars and dreamt of stardom. Steve was soon regaling us with both charming and hair raising stories that segued in classic 'Boltz' fashion into each other. From those early days with a Mod band in Manchester we heard how Steve's Mum used to put a biroed X on Steve in band photos to indicate which one he was;"That stuff could mark you for life" he said baring his chest to reveal a great big blue X !
After answering an advert to become Atomic Rooster's guitarist in the 70's Steve was soon receiving a very liberal education indeed on the road. William Blake the visionary poet and artist wrote circa 1790 'The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom' ... he probably didn't have rock music in mind but we can only hope he was on the right track! An appropriate and enigmatic Eight Miles High punctuated side splitting yarns of rock'n'roll madness, plus some good advice from the past ... if you're doing a gig and wearing paper underpants and getting sweaty they'll slide down your leg and if you're Steve and prone to high kicks in moments of abandonment they'll fly into the face of some 'lucky' woman! As Steve pointed out, Tom Jones had similar situations but in reverse!
Somehow our narrator made it to the eighties touring notably with Paul Young ... a cue for a bizarre video to be screened replete with incongruous horse riders passing by behind the band ... well it was the 80's! But even such a seasoned guitar slinger as 'Boltz' was surprised toward the end of that era to get a phone call from Pete Townsend while having his breakfast. Pete was suffering with tinnitus and needed a guitarist of his own calibre to take his parts on those classic Who songs on a forthcoming American tour ... Steve had graduated to Rock Royalty !
A few tantalising and stirring opening chords from Substitute demanded by a lively audience member prefaced recollections (how's that possible?) of ongoing partying with John 'The Ox' Entwistle, and a cautionary tale of why you shouldn't flush the contents of a cat litter tray down the toilet at The Watergate Hotel ... suffice it to say it cost somebody a lot of money, and several fire engines were involved in the ensuing flooding !
A very funny advert for a certain well known phone company featured Steve paryodying a rock'n'roll life style that was already in actuality out in the stratosphere, induced convulsions of laughter in his audience ... and why was Steve struggling to and fro with Clff Richard over whether Cliff should sign Steve's guitar or not ... what happened next ? if you weren't there and want to know the answer then perhaps you'll find out when this marvellous show hopefully travels beyond Whitstable.
A storming set from The New White Trash with the excellent Tim Cronin on bass, and the power house of a drummer Bryn Burrows presented us with the authentic exhilarating spirit of rock music played from the heart, while Steve in his element thrashed intricate and uplifting beauty from his guitar.
This was a hugely enjoyable evening that expanded upon and informed us in rich and incredibly funny detail (while not avoiding the darkness as well) of worlds that many sadly did not survive, but good old 'Boltz' made it through, and to slightly misquote a Neil Young song title Long may he run!
Submitted by Nigel
St Mary's Hall looked a treat before the gig (tips hat to Louise & Co.), and the audience buzz at 8 o'clock was loud. Could Steve Bolton deliver the goods?
Of course he could!
Stephen Frost did the introduction, with an ominous warning that Steve could talk for hours about the intimate details of one guitar, but we were denied that privilege.
As promised, the show gave us insights into Steve's world of rock'n'roll; not Hello! style tittle-tattle, but fascinating tales of how the music got delivered. And occasionally, why it didn't. Steve's delivery and timing were spot on, and he supported his unlikely tales with equally unlikely evidence; photos and videos - including a Paul Young video that would give small children nightmares (I'm sure it was just fine in the 80s!). Steve gave us many amusing anecdotes of fellow rockers - and he wasn't afraid to share the stories where he just had to take it. And we even got a DIY tip to remember - "Don't put cat litter down the toilet!".
Once or twice, I got the impression there was even more to be told - but what happens on stage stays on stage; luckily there was always enough to raise a laugh and make us grateful for our more mundane walks through life!
In the second half, Steve brought us up to date - at least, as far as a muddy field in Reculver, before returning to the stage for a blinding session with The New White Trash; Steve, with Tim Cronin (bass) and Bryn Burrows (drums). Buoyed by the atmosphere in the hall, they were just amazing, with Tim Cronin's sublime Like A Hurricane one of the highlights (you can't beat Neil Young!).
The show over-ran by half an hour; I don't think anybody noticed. A night to remember.
submitted by Andrew
Find the next gig: Steve 'Boltz' Bolton