Wilko Johnson at Camden Koko: my review

I saw Wilko Johnson at the second of his two London farewell tour dates at Camden Koko’s on Sunday. Here’s my review for the Morning Star.

Wilko Johnson 
Koko, London NW1
Wednesday 13 March 2013 review by Anna Chen
Squeezing through the throng at the second of Wilko Johnson’s farewell gigs in London, it’s hard not to imagine those men of a certain age – outnumbering the women six to one – in their youthful glory.

Portly blokes who’d shared Johnson’s career from his early days with pub-rock kings Dr Feelgood to his emergence as a bona fide TV star in Game of Thrones crowded into the mosh pit and allowed their inner skinny selves one last pogo with their doomed hero.

Johnson had said he wanted everyone to leave their hankies at home and party in defiance of the pancreatic cancer that’s killing him and his fans heeded the call.

With regular sidekicks Dylan Howe on drums and bassist Norman Watt-Roy throwing shapes so distinctive he’s identifiable from his silhouette before you even hear a note, Johnson isn’t far off the top of his game.

He’s a pensioner so there’s some conservation of energy but you’d never guess from this performance that TV’s Ser Ilyn Payne is on death row.

Dressed in his usual all-black, he stalks the stage to the staccato rhythm of his Telecaster, spring-loaded and tethered to his amp by a coiled red umbilical cord against a monochrome set.

Opening with All Through The City, he blazes through his greatest hits, drawing on Feelgoods classics and some of his best post-Feelgood material. He ends the 90-minute set with Back In The Night segueing into my favourite, She Does It Right, and encoring on a poignant Bye Bye Johnny, with a very personal addendum about the black train that took his baybee and is now coming for him.

The devout atheist says: “God bless you all.” He’s sung: “I may be right, I may be wrong, but I know you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.” Dead right, Wilko. But for now, he’s onstage against the dying of the light and definitely not going gently back into the night.

Tour details available at www.wilkojohnson.org.

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