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Royal High School Rugby Club, Edinburgh
25th July 2015

Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland

bob walkenhorst

Most people in the UK only remember The Rainmakers for their sole British hit single 'Let My People Go Go' from 1987. Of course the Missouri rockers had success in the US, elsewhere in Europe and especially Norway before calling it quits in 1990. However a reunion for their twenty fifth anniversary in 2011 resulted in an album of new material and sporadic touring activity since.

The band haven't been seen on these shores since around 1987 so it was a great surprise for me to hear from a friend that singer and frontman Bob Walkenhorst was playing a solo acoustic show in Edinburgh and the venue was bizarrely the rugby club bar in a local high school!

So far as I can tell it seems that Bob is on a holiday with his wife and playing an occasional house concert style gig along the way. This wasn't an opportunity to be missed!

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Saying the atmosphere was relaxed at the start of the night was an understatement. The evening's main man chatted amiably with the few dozen people in the bar before wandering over to pick up a guitar and starting a gentle wander through the history of his songwriting and the results of those labours.

It was immediately apparent that Mr Walkenhorst is a charismatic frontman and also a lyric writer of no small talent. It's not easy to keep an audience's attention with just a voice and an acoustic guitar but the two hours of this show just sped by. Most songs were preceded by a wry anecdote or two about how they were written and then performed with a verve, energy and on occasion real intensity.

My personal experience of Walkenhorst's body of work is via the earlier Rainmakers albums and that was well represented here by the likes of the aforementioned UK hit preceded with amusing tales of appearing on Top Of The Pops, a spontaneous, energetic version of 'Rockin' At The T-Dance' and the cheerful and amusing 'Hoo Dee Hoo'.

It is a real testament to the man and his music that the material which was less familiar to me was no less powerful or interesting. 'Kansas City Times' is easily the best song I have ever heard about doing a paper round when you are a kid! 'Go Down Swinging' is a fine song about resilience in life and 'To The Hum' inspired by the sound of the bagpipes was a moment of real power and atmosphere despite the unusual setting.

I can't say I've ever been to any other gig quite like this one, watching a really talented musician showing his skills while cricketers make their way to the changing rooms in the picture windows behind him! It really, really worked though and from the beginning to the final notes of 'Drinking On The Job' more than two hours later this was just a very special night in a pleasant and intimate setting. Come back soon Bob and bring the band.




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