Dick Heckstall-Smith Memorial Concert The Fabrik, Hamburg, Germany


What a great gig at the Fabrik in Hamburg! I arrived from Berlin earlier that day and what a great day it turned out to be.

Doors opened at 20.00. I didn’t waste time and ran towards the stage. Of course, I stood in the front row. Amongst several guitar amps, there were two drum kits on the stage: on the right a small one used by the drummer of THE HAMBURG BLUES BAND and on the left Jon Hiseman‘s giant, red Pearl kit. Since I’m a COLOSSEUM fan, this caught my eyes first.

It was incredibly hot that day and standing there felt like being a tomato in a green house but it all didn’t matter, since I was there to celebrate my hero.

At 21.00 Dick‘s son Arthur was announced. What a surprise. He welcomed us all and told us how deeply moved he was that so many people came to celebrate his father’s life and work. He was very nervous but a very nice guy.

Now it was time for the THE HAMBURG BLUES BAND. Dick played with them for several years. I’m not really a fan of their music but they were very good and delivered blues-rock at it’s best. After six songs, singer Inga Rumpf joined them and took over the mic. Eight songs (I don’t remember the titles) and 50 minutes later they left the stage with great eclat.

A short break followed, and ten minutes later, COLOSSEUM entered the stage. It was the classic line-up with Dave Greenslade behind his Hammond organ, Mark Clarke on bass guitar,Clem Clempson on guitar, Jon Hiseman on drums, his wife Barbara Thompson on saxes and the great Chris Farlowe on vocals. As usual, they started with “Those About To Die”. The sound was amazing. The guys were on top form and brought down the house after each song. They played all their classics like “Lost Angeles”, “Valentyne Suite”, “Rope Ladder To The Moon” and “Stormy Monday”, as well as some of their newer songs like “Tomorrow’s Blues” and “Big Deal”. The sax solo in “Big Deal” was Dick’s original piece and came from a digital recorder. The guys were very playful. Dave, Clem and Barbara delivering some great solos. Chris Farlowe’s voice sounded better than ever and Jon Hiseman was as great as always, leaving us drooling after his fifteen minute drum solo.

Between the songs, Jon Hiseman talked to us. He said: “This is a celebration – no burial”. Right he was. I was glad it turned out to be a happy event without sad faces. He told some funny stories about Dick, which was very nice. He said more than usual, which was nice also. After two hours of COLOSSEUM on top form, they left the stage.

After another short brake, THE HAMBURG BLUES BAND entered the stage again. This time Clem Clempson, Mark Clarke, Chris Farlowe, Dave “Munch” Moore (Hammong organ) and Pete Brown (vocals, bongos) joined them for a sort of super session. They played a few more HAMBURG BLUES BAND songs followed by “Politician” and “Sunshine Of Your Love”. All these great, important musicians together on one stage – that really gave me the creeps. They jammed for about seventy-five minutes. I was in heaven!

01.15 in the morning this unique event was over. I was all in a sweat, so were the musicians. This night was Dick’s night and I’m sure Dick watched us all and had a lot of fun.

Long may his legacy live on!!! A final good bye DICK HECKSTALL-SMITH!!! Missing you…

Marco Kilmer, Berlin, Germany

Photo © M. Kilmer 2005

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