Roughnecks And Roustabouts – Pete Williams Band Live

Pete Williams – St David’s Hall, Cardiff   2nd November, 2015

I’ve been listening to Pete Williams for well over thirty years – kind of.

The “young bass driver with the complete Stax collection under his arm” (and don’t think for a second I had to look that up!) who played in the original – and still the greatest – incarnation of the greatest band ever has carried on making music ever since that band imploded in late 1980. He’s solo now, fronting his own band and currently supporting The Proclaimers on a 35-date tour of the UK.

That other band came back a couple of years ago too, with Pete and two other members of that original line-up. They’re in pretty good shape these days even if the live shows and records do occasionally tend to favour the theatre elements over the music.

Me, I’m all about the music and Pete Williams’ solo work is bung full of good tunes, lyrics about – you know, real people like you and me – sung with passion and pride and no pretension.

His first solo album, 2012’s “See” contains songs with has some devastating subject matter (“Suddenly Shattered”, “Reconsider This”), the stories told with grace and empathy. A lovely record that I keep going back to, however 2015’s “Roughnecks And Roustabouts” is even better, a more personal album by the sound of it whose stories are more easily understood (“We Came, We Saw”, “First Real Job”, “People”)

Both albums feature keyboards and horns and on some numbers strings (check this) but the band tonight is a four-piece, the guitar, bass, drums template being enhanced only by the ukulele that Pete plucks and strums on a couple of songs. Any worries that this may affect what are, after all, subtle songs full of light and shade, are very soon laid to rest – they’ve been thoughtfully arranged / rearranged to fill – and sometimes NOT fill, to great effect – any sonic gaps.

Cos its the songs that really get you. They would work just as well on solo vocals and guitar, hell they’d probably work on solo vocals and bongos. The songs are taken more or less fifty-fifty from the two albums and make up the finest forty-minute live set I’ve witnessed all year.

Set list:

Breathe My Love
La Ciniega Song
We Came We Saw
Roughnecks And Roustabouts
Let Me Like You
First Real Job
Are You Listening?
Suddenly Shattered

I may have missed a new song but you get the idea)

The Proclaimers are big fans of Pete’s old band down to name-checking them on their first album. The two acts this evening make a good match and judging from the warm and enthusiastic reaction all around me, the Proclaimers’ fans agree.

If you’re quick you can catch the tour until mid-November with a couple of Scottish Xmas dates as well. Get there early, you won’t regret it. The Proclaimers aren’t bad either, mind.

Pete Williams’ website

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