I was at the gig on the 27th and wrote the following review, as well as getting photos for BBC Guernsey Introducing (which you can see here). In the week after I spoke to Chris Dean for Gallery Magazine which you can read online here (pages 108 and 109) or following the review:
In a ‘career’ on Guernsey’s music scene spanning almost 40 years Chris Dean has come to be regarded by many as one of the best frontmen and performers on the island, so, it’s not surprising that his pair of ‘retirement’ gigs at The Fermain Tavern were sold out weeks in advance.
If I’m honest I didn’t really know what to expect from the night as I arrived at the Tav. Sure I’d enjoyed the performances I’d seen from The Devotees in the past and I was aware of Chris’s history in local bands, but could one man fronting the whole night and two bands who hadn’t played together in well over 20 years really pull off a fully entertaining evening?
Well I needn’t have worried because by Tempus’ second song, a storming rendition of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Don’t Believe A Word’, the bar was set high and it never faltered across more three hours of music.
Tempus, consisting of Chris on lead vox and rhythm guitar flanked by Jim Delbridge on bass, the ever-present Savs Russo on drums and Geoff Le Friec on lead guitar, were Chris’s first band back in the mid 70s and tonight they delivered a storming set of 70s rock featuring the likes of the aforementioned Thin Lizzy, Bad Company and Smokie.
Between the songs Chris shared stories of the band’s exploits, including gigs at many venues which no longer exist on the island, from Delancey Hotel to The Hermitage, and gave us a little bit of history of the players – most impressively that this was Geoff’s first gig in more than 30 years!
The history lesson continued next as Chris’ first band to play all original material, The Pulse, took to the stage, accompanied by “The Blue Vein Shuffle” brass section. This band comprised Chris, Jim and Savs once again, along with Nick Creed on keyboards completing The Pulse’s particularly 80s sound.
Despite the fact they clearly came from the 1980s The Pulse’s “punk-funk and speed-soul” sounded surprisingly fresh, maybe this is down to the 80s revival movement of a couple of years ago which was strongly influenced by similar sounds?
Either way The Pulse were brilliantly entertaining tonight with Chris switching from guitar to bass to keyboards for a few songs and he, Jim and Nick all sharing the space at the front of the stage and proving themselves consummate entertainers.
Once again between songs Chris gave us a bit of the story of the band, but never so much as to break the pace of the set and with the level of good will in the packed venue I got the impression the crowd would have been content listening to these stories all night.
By the time The Pulse left the stage they had drawn a few of the more eager members of the crowd forward to dance and this trend was only going to continue as the night went on.
Between the bands the sounds continued with DJ SilverVespa who’s mix of 60s soul and funk sounds and 80s new wave kept many dancers on the floor while the night’s headliners, The Devotees, set themselves up on stage.
Once The Devotees took to the stage it didn’t take long for the lower area of the Tavern to fill up with moving bodies as the band launched into their now well-known, and clearly much-loved, set of power pop indie rock.
Once again backed by Savs on the drums, Chris was now joined onstage by Alan Foss on bass and Colin Leach on guitar for a set which took in everything from The Faces and The Who to Pulp and Kings of Leon and kept the crowd dancing for over an hour.
The night’s one misstep, in my opinion, came towards the end of The Devotees set as they wheeled out Kings of Leon’s Sex on Fire, but that’s one song I don’t think I’ll ever understand the appeal of.
With ten years together under their belt The Devotees’ tightness and confidence together on stage really shone through and as they ended their encore on a rendition of The Clash’s ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’ the crowd continued to clamor for more.
Those in attendance on the second night would get more, but for the last time, before a remarkable career in local music, which included many bands beyond the three who took to the stage here, came to an end.
As always with musical retirements there was already talk of when the reunion of any of these bands might occur, with some predicting it would be before the end of the year, but, whether that happens or not, this weekend will remain a special one for many people in music in Guernsey and, historically significant or not, what it really came down to was that it was a great gig in a packed venue and a lot of people had a really good time.
Interview with Chris about his career in Gallery Magazine’s Organic issue: