Into Live Music Review: Slim Jim Phantom Trio
Venue: Greenock, The Albany Theatre
Date: 23 June 2023
It’s fair to say that it ain’t often that a bona fide rock and roll star plays a show on the Inverclyde Riviera but that’s what happened in Greenock the other night. Likely the locals (more of which later) had to pinch themselves as Slim Jim Phantom brought his band to town for what turned out to be a goddamn sizzler of a show.
The venue is a converted church with tiered seating facing the stage in a shoehorn shape. This ensures that the crowd have a decent view of the main act, front and centre. There is also a standing/dancing area which the locals made use of, jiving and grooving to the hour or so of rockabilly tuneage performed by the Slim Jim Phantom Trio.
Slim Jim was joined by bandmates Frank, on double bass, and the energetic Andy Halligan from the Liverpudlian band Furious on lead guitar. No softly, softly approach, the band got right into their stride with Rumble In Brighton.
Of course, SJP has been the drummer with The Stray Cats, perhaps the world’s most recognised rockabilly band going back to the late 1970’s. Standing upright and with four drums in front of him, SJP cuts an imposing figure as he leads the trio through a mine of rockabilly covers that the audience instantly know, and lap up, in equal measure.
The likes of C’mon Everybody (Eddie Cochran), Say Mama (Gene Vincent), Oh Boy (Buddy Holly) and Blue Moon Of Kentucky (Elvis Presley) are sympathetic to the originals and it’s evident that the threesome are both steeped in the history of rockabilly and also keen to keep these songs alive.
Bass player, Frank, continues to slap the strings hard and takes vocal duty on an excellent Honey Hush before we get treated to a joint vocal on Summertime Blues by SJP and good-looking poster boy Andy Halligan.
By now, the crowd are well gone, in the moment. From the bionic foot-tapper to the mysterious gloved dancer. The couple jiving almost to the point of a coronary and a guy manically pointing at the band and punching the air. Not to mention the deadpan American Gothic couple staring slack-jawed at the stage, the only thing missing was their pitchfork! Yes, Greenock can be a bit surreal at times but the locals didn’t disappoint.
Back to the music and the highlight of the night for me was a fantastic take on Runaway Boys. That hypnotic bass perfectly in tune with SJP’s drums, alongside the signature guitar sound, were just perfect. Closing the set with Ricky Nelson’s Stood Up and the Stray Cats’ Rock This Town saw the dancefloor swell some more for more impromptu jiving and dancing.
The next day, the Slim Jim Phantom Trio headed to Dalkeith for a shorter but equally dynamic set at the Let’s Rock Scotland festival. Next time SJP comes to Scotland, don’t miss out, he’s a top guy and a great rockabilly musician.
John Welsh with additional contributions from Lisa Semple