Tag Archives: Meal Ticket


Last night at the wonderful Staines Riverside Club we witnessed rare magic when WILLY FINLAYSON AND THE HURTERS came to town bringing their smooth quality rock and soft ‘n’ soulful covers.

The last time we saw Willy in Staines was with his band project HALF MEAL TICKET, then with Steve Simpson (now in retirement) and Dean Barnes (much missed.)

Edinburgh born Willy is a talented guitarist, composer and extraordinary vocalist and he fronted Bees Make Honey (1974 ) and later the famous country rock band Meal Ticket. They provided the theme for the brilliant play-for-today “Dominick Hide”.

Willy Finlayson – Carnation-cream and tobacco voice…

In staines The Hurters played songs like the award-winning “She Will Be Loved” [Maroon 5] with its insistent chorus.

These were emotionally rendered, and even at times perhaps overwrought. Though Willy’s smouldering carnation-cream and tobacco voice helped  alleviate any anguish.

Classy blues numbers, such as “Crazy ‘Bout An Automobile (Every Woman I Know)” (Ry Cooder, 1980) had good rebound and veritable trim.

And for the many upbeat numbers (Bruce Springsteen is a favourite songwriter) Willy provided eloquent slur to go with that amazing golden brogue.

Dave Colquhoun – bullets of masculinity and power…

The great revelation of the night was the “new” guitarist Dave Colquhoun.

Dave is actually an experienced session man, currently with Rick Wakeman’s band.

He has his own band projects and previously worked with Go West, Paul Young, Belinda Carlisle, T’pau, Bananarama and, of course, Bucks Fizz.

Dave added bullets of masculinity and power to ballads such as “Hungry Heart” or dark twists of sadness or tiny bee stings of articulation… In other words, he provided nuance and fragrance to every soulful song. Such was his impressive play that he earned  several bravos of his own during the evening.

Tempo was provided by acclaimed blues bassist Malcolm Hoskins who was a firm and steadfast rhythmic-energy maker.

Towards the end of the evening we were treated to a few songs from “surprise guest” LIZA MARSHALL.

Her husky chocolate-syrup voice always wins applause, and her smooth song-choice included the singalong gospel number “People Get Ready” [Curtis Mayfield 1965.] This allowed Dave to express his more imaginative and jazzy side.

As usual, a very fine evening of quality musical entertainment in Staines.

Words & Images: @neilmach 2017 ©

Link: http://www.willyfinlayson.com/


Half a Meal Ticket — Live at Staines Riverside Club

Meal Ticket were a country rock band that played the London pub circuit in 1970’s. The Canadian performer Rick Jones wrote many of their songs.

Steve Simpson and Willy Finlayson played guitars (plus additional instruments ) in the original band.

Steve Simpson and Willy Finlayson played guitars in the original Meal Ticket...
Steve Simpson and Willy Finlayson played guitars in the original Meal Ticket…

Now the two famous guitarists play local venues as a trio named (understandably) “Half a Meal Ticket” — with bassist (and keyboards player) Nigel Portman-Smith.

Nigel was with jazzy British folk-rock band Pentangle during the period 1986-1995 and recorded with Magna Carta and also Bert Jansch.

We managed to get to see the super  “Half Meal Ticket” show in the excellent and comfortable  surroundings of the Staines Riverside Club this week.

The impressive Scot, Willy Finlayson is an incredibly
passionate vocalist.

He shares lead vocals with the versatile Steve Simpson. Willy first came to London in the late 1960s with the Scottish progressive rock band Writing on the Wall  (they were originally known as The Jury.) The band were a favourite at the Middle Earth Club in London.

Willy later formed his own band called THE HURTERS along with Micky Moody and Matt Cheadle on guitars, Nigel Portman Smith on bass and Alan Coulter on drums.

Steve Simpson started out with Ronnie Lane's Slim  Chance...
Steve Simpson started out with Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance…

The renaissance man Steve Simpson is a multi-instrumentalist (guitar, mandolin, violin, keyboards,
harmonica) and has worked with the ‘French Elvis’ Johnny Hallyday.

He started out in the 1970’s, though, with Slim Chance, the band formed by Ronnie Lane.

His vocals at the Staines Riverside Club were less whisky soaked than Willy’s… Smoother and softer. But no less passionate or sincere.

Electric guitar-work was provided by the über-talented Dean Barnes. He added trills, yelps and ornamental fringes to all the numbers.

The overall feel of the Staines show was low-key,  roots rock, infused with a slightly Celtic quality (provided by Willy) and lots of incredible arpeggios and other stunning  fingerstyle techniques.

Songs were concentrated and emotional.

It was all packaged to perfection.

Mature, serious and sultry.

Words: @neilmach 2015 ©
Images provided by artist or artist(s) representative.
Link: https://www.facebook.com/SteveSimpsonGuitar