Seven Arts Jazz Blues Fest, Leeds
An astonishing phenomenon of rock is the way some bands remain demonstrably the same, regardless of changes of personnel. The Byrds remained the Byrds right up to the end. Fairport Convention is still Fairport, though Simon Nicol is the sole remaining founder member. The Mothers of Invention were still the Mothers – even though Frank Zappa stopped using the name – till the day the latter died.
And, as was all too evident at the recent Seven Arts Jazz Blues Fest in Leeds, Back Door is still Back Door, over 40 years after they first rocked our socks off.
Saxist Ron Aspery and drummer Tony Hicks are sadly no longer with us and I feared I that Rod Mason and Paul Robinson might not be able to fill their respective chairs. But I needn’t have worried.
Colin Hodgkinson is still the Back Door man, but not the only one. True, his instantly recognisable bass style, in which he plays the instrument as a guitar, not a plank-shaped substitute for a stand-up string bass, provides the uniquely inimitable underpinning for their bluesy jazz-rock.
But like the other bands I’ve mentioned, Back Door is a collective enterprise, in which the totality is more than just the sum of its parts. Mason is a wonderfully strident sax player who also provides occasional keyboard interjections and Robinson doesn’t merely fill in for the deceased Tony Hicks but provides his own wildly enthusiastic percussionistics.
A track from the gig is on Youtube at http://bit.ly/BackDoorMan-Leeds