Jimmy Payne & Jonny Young Four
Breakers Club, Leysdown, Kent
North-West Kent is a highly depressed area with unemployment in the Medway Towns approaching 20%, so when Jimmy Payne brought his music to the Isle of Sheppey, he could only draw an audience of about 50. The low turn-out didn't dampen his spirits. Handling both his own songs and country favourites in his own inimitable style in just over an hour on stage, Jimmy was in superb form. Since I last saw him working, just over two years ago, he has brought a lot of new material into his act. His experience as a performer was borne out by his well-structured act that builds nicely. He brought his trusty harmonica out for It'll Be Her, and a little later for a rousing version of Cottonfields, demonstrated his songwriting abilities in Feeling The Weight Of My Chains, My Eyes Can Only See As Far As You (a number one hit for Charley Pride), and a fine new tribute song to George Jones, which has yet to be recorded. A plaintive version of Why Me Lord was also well-executed, but Jimmy made one mistake in attempting When I Dream, a song that didn't suit him at all. Otherwise this was an exceptional set from this gifted artist.
Earlier, the Jonny Young Four, back together with three of the original members, showed the audience why they used to be one of the best bands on the country circuit, with two well-varied sets. Emphasis is naturally on Jonny Young's lead vocals, and though the years have taken their toll, he is still one of the best singers on the British scene. But one can never ignore Dave Crane on lead guitar, a man with his own style and easily one of the best lead players in British country. Then you have the solid drumming of Luce Langridge, the man responsible for bringing it all back together, and the new bass player, who fitted into the band very neatly. It turned out to be a good blend, because the band provided Jimmy Payne with some of the best accompaniments he has ever had on a British tour.