ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 2, 1993
David Bowie has a pretty good eye for guitarists. Whether it’s Mick Ronson, Earl Slick, Robert Fripp, Peter Frampton, or Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bowie tends to pick players whose talent and style put them a healthy cut above the rest.
When Bowie saw the video for Wild ‘T’ and the Spirit’s “Midnight Blues” last year, he got hooked on the sharp guitarwork of Mr. ‘T’ (Tony Springer) and eventually had him fly to New York to play on his latest album, Black Tie White Noise. After that, Bowie asked him to perform with his band during its Arsenio Hall and Tonight Show appearances. It was an offer ‘T’ couldn’t refuse.
The blazing talent that caught Bowie’s eye was evident during the first of two Town Pump shows Thursday (August 26) as Wild ‘T’—along with the original drummer Danny Bilan and new bassist Nazeem Lakay—focused on tunes from the band’s brand-new release, Givin’ Blood, tossing in the odd cover by James Brown (“Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”) and Jimi Hendrix (“Fire”). When it came time to really toast up the frets, ‘T’ chose Ten Years After’s “I’m Going Home”, and his chicken-pickin’ take on that Woodstock-era rave-up would surely please Alvin Lee himself.
Most of Wild ‘T’ and the Spirit’s recent material was cowritten by Springer and producer Arnold Lanni from Frozen Ghost, and some of it—like the rap-laden “Telephone Freak”—sounded bland in comparison to the classy “Midnight Blues”. But what ‘T’ lacks in the songwriting department, he makes up for on guitar: his instrumental encore of “O Canada” was a patriotic tour de force. He’s an excellent showman as well, flopping around on his back or somersaulting across the stage in the midst of a manic solo.
The attendance for Thursday’s show was poor, however, leading one to wonder where all of Vancouver’s blues-rock fans were hiding. Maybe they’d already blown all their entertainment funds at the George Thorogood show earlier that night.