Sounds  May 31, 1975
     

Sounds on the road: Patto
By Dave Laing

BEFORE THEY split up in 1972, Patto had the reputation of being a "Musicians' band".  Which made them feel good but didn't pay for life's little luxuries like rent and food.  So off they went, Mike Patto to tour with Spooky Tooth, the others (Ollie Halsall, Clive Griffiths, and John Halsey) to join the pool of London musicians who tend to be involved in the more interesting recording and performing projects.

They've currently reformed for a short series of gigs to raise money for the dependents of a former road manager who died recently.  The first was at London's Dingwalls last Thursday, before a crowd mainly composed of Patto devotees, eager to re-live the heyday of the band.

The two and a half year lay-off showed very little - a couple of notes missed, a few lines of lyrics forgotten. But basically this was a Powerhouse performance from a quartet who, if they were a new band, would have had the record companies pulling the contracts out of their pockets.  Halsall, in particular, reveled in the opportunity to display the range and attack of his playing.

He's one of those guitarists who can play both rhythm and lead at once somehow, creating sheets of sound instead of a thin line of notes.  And as the evening wore on, he began to look more and more like Keith Moon in one of his more demented moods.  He also enjoyed the chance to exercise his vocal chords on some of the Patto standards, notably the bizarre 'Peter Abraham'.

The main vocalist, though, was Mike Patto, who lived up to his reputation as a forgotten master of blue-eyed soul.  He shouted and wailed his way through the witty and sharp lyrics of 'Don't Shoot Me' (a guided tour of US youth culture c. 1969), 'I Got Rhythm', 'Singing The Blues On Reds' (everybody's favorite eye-rolling drug song) and a thundering version of Joplin's 'Move Over', with clean hard melody lines from Halsall.

Clive Griffiths on bass and drummer John Halsey drove the band along throughout the evening, and Halsey was allowed his moment of glory in a comic a cappella sequence.  An exhilarating time was had by all. DAVE LAING.

Nitpicking: Patto split up in the Spring of 1973, not 1972.  "Don't Shoot Me" is actually "Hold Your Fire", of course.

     

  

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