A series of essays wherein I explore the numerous musical identities of my favorite musician: from child prodigy to teen idol to guitar hero to singer/songwriter to award-winning in-demand film composer.
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Monday, August 14, 2017

Lee Pomeroy: a performance primer

It's all because I'm a cheeky Cockney geezer! I think it's a lot of work and little bit of luck. I've always had a good work ethic and a can-do approach to music and that seems to stand me in good stead.
- Lee Pomeroy, 2014

Regular readers of the blog will note that since the 2016 ARW tour I've taken quite a shine to Lee Pomeroy, but who can blame me?  He is an amazing bass player, and his resume and professional reputation only serve to underscore that impression.  But I also know there are any number of people (especially in the UK) who are asking: where have YOU been?!  And my answer is: I don't know.  I feel rather out of the loop, believe me.

It was touching to observe many fans online feeling a bit sad at Lee's absence during the Japanese tour (with no offense meant to the capable Iain Hornal) which brought the realization that Lee plays in no less than three different bands every year, at least of late.  And so it serves to emphasize that Our Guys were fully enthusiastic in terms of including Lee as part of ARW even with the consideration of his prior commitments.

Not paying attention in prior years means I missed out on a lot of great playing...but wait - this is the 21st Century and we have YouTube to save us from total ignorance of such things.  And let me tell you: there is a lot of footage of Mr. Poms out there on the Internet (I have spent months watching it and there's still footage I haven't seen).  Because, as he's stated in several interviews, his philosophy was and is to play as many gigs as possible, so there's plenty of his work to enjoy in various genres.  Lee seems to fit effortlessly into whatever situation he finds himself in, I have yet to hear him play something where I thought: no, that's not quite right.  He is always right on time.  So I thought I'd curate what I believe is some of the significant work of Lee's career as a performing musician -  if, like me, you're just learning of this man's greatness.  Or if you already know, you can experience some of the highlights once more.  But this is gathered according to my specific tastes/impressions, so there are gigs I've left out, I'm aware of that.

Genaside II
This clip is from 20 years ago and a true testament to the archival nature of YouTube, immortalizing the moment which Lee has cited as his big break (playing festivals on a bill with The Prodigy, this performance was for 350,000 people in Moscow's Red Square and broadcast on MTV), and you can, in fact, spy a few shots of a long-haired bass player holding down the low end of "Mr. Maniac" from the album Ad Finite. Lee later joined trip-hop band Archive for several years.

English Rock Ensemble
Those who knew of Lee's work with the ERE found it no surprise that he was selected for ARW; Lee has been playing (and goofing around) with Rick Wakeman for nearly twenty years now.

These two performances of "Merlin the Magician" - five years apart - are an interesting snapshot illustrating how Lee displays incredible chops, but further experience has brought refinement to his overall style.

From the 2005 Made In Cuba DVD release:

This performance from the 2010 Cropredy Festival features an example of the aforementioned silliness.

The Tar Babies
The UK-based version is a pub band which everyone involved with does for fun and they have an excellent repertoire of cover songs, as well as a retro vibe which is reflected in their choice of stage attire.  Lee has performed with them periodically for over ten years now. This first video from 2011 isn't the best quality but I selected it for two reasons:
-1- they play my favorite Pink Floyd song
-2- they also play Focus' "Hocus Pocus" with Lee on lead yodel.  And Lee has also actually performed with Focus (the photographic evidence is on his website).

This next video isn't the best quality visually but sound-wise it's really great.  It's an excerpt from their 2007 performance at Music on the Meadow - I don't know what the guys are playing but it sounds fusion-y (and if someone recognizes it, please email me and tell me what it is!).  This was the first video I ever saw of The Tar Babies with Lee on bass and I was completely sold.  I don't believe Lee has time to play with them on a regular basis now, but one just never knows when he might turn up again.

A progressive metal ensemble which is the passion project of all its' members, the core is Lee, Adam Wakeman and Damian Wilson, who originally performed together in Rick Wakeman's English Rock Ensemble in 2000-2002 (Damian and Lee also played on Rick's 2003 album Out There).  With all of them so busy in other bands and projects, the only way they could spend any time together was to form another band, and so they rounded it out with mutual friends Richard Brook (however, Darby Todd is their current drummer) and Pete Rinaldi.  They've released three recordings (an EP and two full-length albums) but haven't performed often, so when they do it's something very special.  I love this band, and I really want everyone else to love them too, but I realize that's rather an unrealistic goal.  But if you think you might like them, please give them a chance!

This particular video takes a commitment of your time and attention, but as their epic it's entirely worth it, trust me.  It is also the only known recording of this song (from their album I Am Anonymous) in performance.

It Bites
This UK-based prog-pop band has been around since the mid-80s and Lee was a fan from the beginning, so it was a dream come true for him to get the job, originally for the tour to support the release of The Tall Ships in 2008.  Now you might already know that It Bites had a sort of stage uniform in those days - everyone wore white.  But in Lee's first appearance with the band. he was the black sheep.

His role then progressed to what John Mitchell referred to as "a real bass player" for the band on their next album Map of the Past, and he initially participated in the subsequent tour, but I do not believe he's actually played with them since 2011-12 so it's not clear if Lee is even in the band any longer.

"All in Red" was It Bites' first single back in 1986 and I'm particularly enamored of this version, which is a bonus feature on the It Happened One Night live DVD, presumably from the soundcheck for the gig which was filmed.

"Great Disasters" is from The Tall Ships and this footage is from the live DVD, I love the vibe of this song, it's somewhat retro but it does hew to that line between genres which the band seems to straddle.

Three Friends
Another dream job for Mr. Poms was touring with this offshoot of beloved and influential prog rock band Gentle Giant, and this particular song (one of my GG favorites) is a great example of what Lee means when he says that Ray Shulman is "the funkiest bass player in prog rock."  This performance is from 2013, featuring great interplay between Lee and guitarist Gary Green.

Steve Hackett's Genesis Revisited
Speaking of dream jobs, playing in a band which celebrates the music of Genesis with an actual member of Genesis is the very definition of an offer Lee would never refuse.  And we see him here in the GR Live at Hammersmith DVD release adeptly handling Mike Rutherford's double-neck bass guitar duties on "Dance On A Volcano" originally from A Trick of the Tail.

Anderson Rabin & Wakeman
I offer no commentary, only the request that you sit back and experience this man performing the music of his original bassist hero with love and respect and joy.