Gig review: Graham Parker and The Rumour at Holmfirth Picturedrome

Graham Parker and The Rumour
Graham Parker and The Rumour
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Holmfirth’s Picturedome isn’t a big flashy venue, overpriced and a passing fashion. So Graham Parker and the Rumour fit in perfectly, as they play one of the last gigs on what is billed as their final ever tour.

Not flashy, real value and standing the test of time, they came on stage to a full house, many of whom had traveled long miles to be there, to milk the best of musicians showing that 40 years experience can be transformed into a performance of seamless, classic, soulful rock.

Graham Parker has been writing and performing with and without The Rumour for over four decades and has a huge back catalogue of tunes from more than 20 albums. They vary between driving rock, heartfelt soul, reggae and more idiosyncratic songs that defy genre. Members of The Rumour have worked with a host of famous names, and lead guitarist Brinsley Schwarz’s eponymous band were a legend in British rock music’s family tree. Quality and skill shows in the tightness of the performance.

Wearing his trademark shades, Parker opened with White Honey from 1976’s Howlin’ Wind debut album, voice on form, and looking lean and focussed. Tonight’s set mixed favourites from the earlier years with a sprinkling of numbers from the two albums released by the reformed troupe 2012’s Three Chords Good and this year’s Mystery Glue. The newer songs blend seamlessly with the vintage, so Pub Crawl and Railroad Spikes were greeted with almost as much enthusiasm as Watch the Moon Come Down and Local Girls from 1979’s critically acclaimed Squeezing Out the Sparks.

Parker is rumoured (see what I did there) to have been a major influence on Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson and Bruce Springsteen. You can see and hear it. There’s a soul voice and lyrics addressing real life allied to showmanship and performance delivery that draws the audience into a shared celebration of edgy tunefulness. Parker even found time to take a poke at Holmfirth’s Last of the Summer Wine industry – although that could almost be a Parker song title.

The encore was a perfect denouement to the ‘best of’ feeling to the set list. There was nostalgia – but more than that – there was a real sense of seeing professionals delivering time-honed skills. Best known numbers Hey Lord! Don’t Ask Me Questions, Hold Back the Night and Soul Shoes had the years rolling back to when hair was longer and less grey and bands roamed the country in Transit vans and played like they really meant it. If you missed the gig, at least you can get some of Parker’s heat treatment online...

Gig date: October 14