Live show review: The Reverend Horton Heat

It's Saturday night and I'm in the Starlite Room. This is going to be a good night because those two go together like peanut butter and jam. PB&J was not on the menu, however, tonight will feature The Reverend Horton Heat, Unknown Hinson, and Igor & The Red Elvises. This is no cheap buffet at the hospital cafeteria, no sir it wasn't. It was more like a smorgasbord of sound that became music for our ears. 

There was no time wasted warming up, The Red Elvises roared onto the stage and set a beat down that got the crowds attention, and not just because they had a good beat going. They were eye candy as well. The bass was actually a bass balalaika: huge, red and a very rich bass sound. The drummer was sequined and was laying down a driving rhythm to accompany the bass and keyboard. And then Igor arrived. If anyone thought the band dressed flashy they were about to be awed by the leopard printed and who-knows-what-else silk printed suit of Igor.

Igor, the East Bloc Elvis plays a mean electric guitar and wings songs about the KGB, bacon, and monsters from Mars. It would be too easy to dismiss Igor and the Red Elvises as a novelty act. They were talented, fun and got the crowd jumping, pumping and warmed up for the Heat that was about to come.

The Reverend Horton Heat that is, aka Jim Heath, the psychobilly whirlwind from Texas fed off the energy that Igor and the Red Elvises had started and wound the crowd up to a new level of frenzy. They plowed into Victory Lap, the opening track from their newest release on Victory Records and seldom lifted their foot from the gas pedal after that. Jim Heath is a talented singer-songwriter as well as a master of rockabilly and psychobilly guitar. A very personable man who interacted very well with the audience who told stories about the band and how those stories often became songs.

About mid-set, I lost track of time. They had a short break and upon returning played one song before introducing Unknown Hinson. Unknown Hinson is an American singer, musician, songwriter, and voice actor. He is perhaps best known for his role as the voice of Early Cuyler on the Adult Swim animated series Squidbillies. There was obvious chemistry between The Horton Heat band and Unknown Hinson because they rocked the house, Hinson is a very accomplished guitar player and was a joy to hear and see in person. I loved the suits that Unknown Hinson and Jim Heath wore, Texas gentlemen to a T.

Unknown Hinson left the stage after about 6 songs. Reverend Horton Heat settled in for a few slower songs, a few more stories and then they left the stage. Coming back for the traditional encore, their drummer started a solo that covered every surface of his drum kit, the upright bass, random glasses held high by front-row audience members and then back to his kit for a power closer. And then the rest of the band stepped in for a few more songs that eventually led to Hinson returning for an extended jam with the full band. It left me breathless.

The Starlite room raised the bar with this show, which I rate as one of the all-time best that I have seen at this venue. Every single musician gave their all for the show and the audience bounced, jumped, danced disco and even did a conga line to show their respect for the people on the stage. It was fun, occasionally funny, and totally engaging and entertaining. A good time, a really good party on a snowy Saturday night in Edmonton, with The Heat turned up.

Norman Weatherly | Weathered Music

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