The Pretty Things are one of the few bands formed in the early 60s that are still around, despite many line-up changes and short periods of hiatus over the decades. They are currently on tour and performed in London, their hometown, last night (28th July) – and they didn’t disappoint.
Vocalist Phil May and lead guitarist Dick Taylor are the only two founding members present in the group’s current incarnation, and they are the ones who have always defined the sound of the Pretty Things throughout the years. Therefore, they are certainly worth seeing, regardless of whether you’ve been following them since 1963 or you’re just vaguely familiar with some of their songs, or anywhere in between. At the London gig, most of the audience seemed to have been made of the former category of loyal fans, but there were also many young faces who don’t have any memories of the time when songs like “Rosalyn” and “Don’t Bring Me Down” were on the charts.
The set list spanned much of the band’s career. They played their early hits, a couple of tracks from 1968’s ‘S.F. Sorrow’, one of the first ever concept albums, and also a few songs from their latest, 2015 release ‘The Sweet Pretty Things (Are in Bed Now, of Course…)’.
Most of those who were present last night would probably agree that time travel may have already been invented. We were transported back to an era when London was synonymous with innovative music, with the help of two brilliant artists who were once at the forefront of the British rock ‘n’ roll scene. May still has the spirit that shines through their older recordings, and Taylor’s soulful guitar solos sounded as superb as they did 50 years ago. Frank Holland, who joined the band in 1988, played the guitar and harmonica magnificently, and drummer Jack Greenwood and bassist George Woosey formed a great rhythm section. Woosey also provided some powerful backing vocals, completing the nostalgic experience.
The group have many more gigs lined up for the rest of 2017. They have already played in Belgium, France and Spain, and they’re going to visit Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, in addition to several dates across the UK. See their website for more information about the current tour.
We can expect to see even more of them next year. S.F. Sorrow will turn 50 in 2018, and May announced last night that they’re planning a special tour to commemorate the classic album and celebrate its protagonist’s birth.