Going back to the 70s is no mean Feat

Little Feat ****Queen's HallWHEN people of a certain age talk about live music, Little Feat is pretty much what they mean.

Big drum kits, the rich warm sound of Hammond organs and electric pianos, multiple guitarists, and long, long guitar solos.

So when the band stepped onstage last night at the Queen's Hall, you'd have been forgiven for thinking it was 1979 back at the Odeon or the Empire instead, given the roar that greeted them.

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Little Feat are a group. Which is to say there are no stars or grandstanding – they are one of those few bands where each member is as important as the others, and it shows.

With seven excellent performers on stage at once, the problem is who to concentrate on, not whether there's anything to look at.

Enormous, shiny drums, together with a Latin percussion bay are always worth a gander, but when they're played by drummers as gifted as Ritchie Hayward and Sam Clayton, it becomes hard to look at anything else.

Original players Bill Payne and Paul Barrere on keyboards and guitar respectively were fascinating to watch and listen to, if only to try to work out why musicians of this calibre aren't as well known as their less skilled counterparts in other bands. Barrere in particular pulled off some astounding blues and slide work throughout the show.

Most of the band sang, but no-one sings quite like Shaun Murphy. Anywhere. Her incredible voice could split plate steel, yet it's capable of gossamer delicacy at the drop of a bluesman's hat.

If Janis Joplin were alive today, it'd be a brave gambler who'd bet on the outcome of a sing-off between them.

Guitarist Fred Tackett also plays some of the sweetest trumpet this side of half a dozen top flight jazz bands, and he thankfully brought it out several times last night, always to loud and long applause. Together they make a gutsy, sexy sound which defies categorisation.

There was a nod to the late Lowell George, co-founder of the band with Payne, in the form of Honest Man, from George's solo album. Otherwise the set travelled back to some of their earliest albums for material.

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Tripe Face Boogie from 1972 was the oldest, while Hate To Lose Your Lovin' and Let It Roll were the young upstarts of the show, both dating from 1988. In between there was an embarrassment of riches from five other albums, each song clearly full of memories for the packed audience.

Dixie Chicken became an epic solo-athon. After a sprint through a straight ahead version, the front line, guitars, vocals and keyboards all left the stage, leaving the drums and bass to funk it up.

The whole team reconvened for a bit, then it was the front line's turn in the spotlight. Wonderful musicianship and extended – but never meaningless – solos thrilled and entertained the yelling, cheering crowd.

With a little luck, there will have been a few younger players in the audience, open-mouthed and goggle-eyed, taking notes and making plans to expand the sound of their own bands.

Until then, the rest of the audience will have to hope that the real thing will roll this way again a few more times.

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