Richard Strange, Leicester Musician Pub, 4 February 2024

Synchronicity, when seemingly random events conspire to make the universe almost understandable (and bearable).

Last week I discovered the musical joys of Paul Roland, and as I was working my way through his extensive and finely crafted back catalogue, I had a message from my friends.

“Fancy coming to see Richard Strange in Leicester on Sunday?” I looked at the track playing at that exact same time, it was Dr Strange by the aforesaid Mr Roland.

Sheer coincidence? No, it was a sign, a portent. Get thee to Leicester, birthplace of the legendary Englebert Humperdinck soonest. So, I got thee.

This was a rare matinee performance and billed as Richard Strange’s Theatre of Desire. Richard was the driving force of the difficult to pigeonhole Doctors of madness in the seventies and their three studio albums earned him cult status, but he still doggedly continues to record fine solo albums.

On this occasion he was accompanied by keyboardist extraordinaire Clifford Slappe. Richard during his lengthy set tells anecdotes of his remarkable life and punctuates them with many fine songs.

These included Suicide City, Sour hour, The phenomenal rise of Richard Strange, and a most glorious version of The Ghost of Brian Jones with an exquisite coda which included a snippet of Ruby Tuesday.

He was joined by his daughter, Lilybud,  at the end of the set. She has a mighty voice, fleshed the songs out majestically, and also performed a short set earlier in the afternoon of her self-penned tunes.

I must mention the third artist on the bill, he looked frail and unassuming, he played beautiful guitar and sang like an angel, albeit an angel with a beard wearing a beanie hat. This I later found out was Kevin Hewick, the name rang a bell.

As soon as I got home, I checked him out on the internet. Insert sweary exclamation here! I could not believe the charmed life this guy has led and all the associated history surrounding him. Go on, Google him, Bloody hell!

All in all, a splendid afternoon in the company of almost legends, beautiful people, and a rather nice cheeseburger later in the evening.

Words and pictures by John Haylock


John Haylock

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