Saiichi and his band family performed at Weyfest 2021 before a live audience. Yes, LIVE audience. And what a live audience it was! The award-winning Weyfest annually (in ‘normal’ circumstances, and perhaps even more so now) is a draw for a music-loving audience across the south-east of England and beyond. This year’s headliner was UB40. The festival being held in his home town of Farnham and having played it twice in the past, Weyfest has been a festival that is very close to Saiichi’s heart. He announced at the start of the performance that their set was to be dedicated to the memory of the late Head Steward of Weyfest, Mike Sands, who passed away last year, whom he said was a most kind man.
Saiichi’s agenda with the band performance after a LONG break was to reset everyone concerned, himself and his band family included, into a better frame of mind, one with good times to the fore. Mune, the musical director, took his time off from the band’s studio building project to work on putting together the reunion performance by the regular team consisting of Ben, Sam, Monica and Saiichi.
The one hour set of Saiichi Sugiyama-penned songs saw Monica and Saiichi splitting lead vocals. The show opened with the Beatle-ish/Motown-esque IT’S UP TO YOU with its rather catchy chorus. Monica’s plaintive and soulful vocals was followed by a wailing blues solo from Saiichi’s Les Paul in a heart-breaking rendition of NIGHT INDIGO, a song about a marital break-up, which the band played in a style reminiscent of Southern Soul of Ann Peebles et al. Sam played a beautifully lyrical piano solo on SWEET DREAMS, which Saiichi introduced as a song for all the parents in the audience, while the dreamy CHINA DOLL saw Ben playing an intricate bass solo over its jazzy bridge, the both of which featured Saiichi on lead vocals and acoustic guitar. The Crazy Horse-esque BITTER GROUND told a story of a war and a lost paradise. The show ended with an energetic rendition of funky soul groove that is IS THAT YOU, BABE? with Mune driving the infectious groove on the kit while Monica’s powerful vocals and Saiichi’s blues guitar raised the temperature.
Judging by the smiling faces and warm applauses, which often lasted for a while, I fancy that they probably succeeded with their agenda of revival. Such a lovely audience (“we’d like to take you home with us, we’d love to take you home”) – sang along they did to the refrain of Saiichi’s “protest” song, WINGS OF A DOVE. Yes, we indeed “need love, love, love, like wings of a dove” at these uncertain times.
Saiichi Sugiyama – Guitar, Vocals
Monica George – Vocals
Mune Sugiyama – Drums, Musical Director
Ben Reed – Bass
Sam Grimley – Keyboard,Guitar
Stephen Field – Guitar technician
1. It’s Up to You
2. Magic Wand
3. I Got News
4. Night Indigo
5. Sweet Dreams
6. China Doll
7. Bitter Ground
8. Wings of a Dove
9. Is That You, Babe?