Sounds  July 19, 1975

Sounds on the road: Patto
By Dave Laing

IT WAS, as they say, a night to remember. The queue outside London’s Torrington last Sunday stretched right down the road, and dozens were left outside peering through the windows when the House Full notices went up. Inside, the packed audience, including many fellow musicians, were reminded by Mike Patto that this was positively the last ever performance of the reformed Patto, a benefit for the dependents of a former roadie, killed in Pakistan.

North London had been the band’s old stamping-ground and the event brought the hard-core Patto fans, some of whom seemed to remember more of the repertoire than the group themselves. The 90-minute set was no anti-climax for them. From Ollie Halsall’s first crackling guitar solo and Mike Patto’s hip soul shouting on ‘I Got Rhythm’, the band were hot and got hotter (as did the audience).

The dozen or so numbers included an a cappella comedy routine featuring the rich, rude, lead voice of drummer John Halsey (who’s exercised his comic talents more recently with Grimms) on a lewd, suggestive piece called ‘Mummy’. There was a Twist contest visible only to the front few rows but accompanied by a lovingly inaccurate version of the Ventures’ ‘Perfidia’ from Halsall, who also starred in the band’s famed and absurd rendition of ‘Shakin’ All Over’.

On the more serious side, Mike Patto himself blistered his way through ‘Singing The Blues On Reds’, and built up ‘My Days Are Numbered’ to a storming climax. The final encore was a stomping ‘Hi Heel Sneakers’ which packed a lot more punch than the version offered by its originator, Tommy Tucker at the 100 Club a few weeks earlier.

Ollie Halsall played his heart out with as good a burst of demonic guitar artistry as anyone’s likely to hear in Britain this year. Bassist Clive Griffiths was his perfect foil, varying his lines to fit the mad axeman’s increasingly extravagant ideas. Halsey was a powerhouse behind the drums and Mike Patto bobbed, weaved and sung his head off in a way that those other masters of blue-eyed soul, Cocker and Winwood, would have been hard put to match.

It was the best possible way for a band to sign off. And though there are rumours that this may not be quite the last of Patto, what’s needed now is a Best Of Patto album to remind us how good their songs were. How about it, Island? – DAVE LAING.



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