Koko, London - Monday 8th March 2010
The Koko audience couldn’t agree when it was that Les Claypool had last visited these shores - was it ten years ago?
Twelve? I was plumping for seventeen, since that was when, on a balmy (and, indeed, barmy) afternoon at the Reading festival, I had last seen the Thumb of God. On that day he was, of course, leading Primus. This evening he was ring-master to a trio of identically-masked Fancy bandmates; lead duties were taken by a gentleman doing unfeasible things to a cello, whilst a double percussion team handled wall-thumping. As for the man himself, well, mere words can do him no justice at all. From the opening Rumble of the Diesel through cuts from his last album Of Fungi And Foe (Red State Girl, Amanitas, Ol’ Rosco) to the epic closer Riddles Are Abound Tonight, we were taken on a glorious trip. A nugget from Mr. Krinkle lead to the inevitable cacophony of Primus titles being bellowed, which were finally rewarded with a stunning run at Southbound Pachyderm in the middle of an equally gargantuan David Malakaster. He even found time to sneak in a few bars of Led Zep’s Kashmir - as if the crowd weren’t ecstatic enough as it was (the massed singalong to D’s Diner showed that).
There was no extended bass soloing, however. No Hamburger Train, no One Better and certainly no Tommy the Cat. The percussive duo took that mantle, practically shattering Koko’s giant disco ball with a drum-and-vibes duel to conjure the ghosts of Bonham and Moon. Les seemed in fine fettle, yet the tour has a sad tinge - his father-in-law died recently and he really felt he wanted to be with his wife - the Iowan Gal. There are few in Claypool’s class either technically or creatively. Here’s hoping he doesn’t stay away for another seventeen years.