Dr Feelgood’s legendary machine gun guitarist Wilko Johnson has confirmed a one night only date with his band at Whelan’s on Bank Holiday Monday 2nd May. Tickets priced €26.50 including booking fee go on sale on Wednesday 9th May.
When rock’n’roll was shaken from its pre-punk complacency by the emergence of Dr. Feelgood, it was their guitarist Wilko Johnson who excited most attention – not only for the startling violence of his stage performance (which was to inspire countless imitators and become one of the classic images of rock’n’roll) but also for his guitar style which combined the roles of lead and rhythm guitar in driving riffs and a stuttering machine gun frenzy which altered conceptions of ‘guitar heroics’.
As a songwriter too – from early Feelgood favourites like ‘Back in the Night’ to the power and poetry of ‘Dr. Dupree’ and ‘Sneaking Suspicion’ he has proved himself one of the best and most original exponents of rhythm’n’blues styles this side of the Atlantic. The list of ’70s New Wave bands who acknowledge the influence of Wilko and the Feelgoods is extensive and includes The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Jam, The Boomtown Rats, and across the Atlantic The Ramones and Blondie (who spent a whole night at a New York party wearing out their specially imported copy of the Feelgood’s first album, ‘Down by the Jetty’).
After his abrupt departure from Dr. Feelgood in 1977 Wilko formed his own band, and over the next few years worked with several personnel of varying degrees of musical accomplishment and mixed moral character. In 1980, while continuing to work with his own 3-piece, Wilko entered the ranks of Ian Dury’s brilliant Blockheads, co-writing writing several songs with Ian and featuring on the ‘Laughter’ album. Then in 1985 the Block’s sensational and much loved bassist Norman Watt-Roy joined Wilko, and when Monti took over the drums in 1999, the classic Wilko Johnson Band had arrived. They have never been off the road since and have startled and blasted audiences from Helsinki to Madrid, Aberdeen to Istanbul, Toulouse to Tokyo. Monti’s stool at the drums has recently been taken by the much revered Dylan Howe, also of the Blockheads, and this has raised the band to an even greater level of musical mastery and manic brilliance.
In 2008 the highly acclaimed film director Julien Temple set out to make a documentary film about the birth and all too brief phenomenon of Dr. Feelgood. ‘Oil City Confidential’ was premiered in October 2009 to very great critical acclaim and has lead to a recent frenzy of interest in Wilko, the eccentric star of the film.