house of the rising sun - The I-94 Bar

Road Animals who celebrate the blues

john steele bam festival hengeloYou know the drill by now, surely? The Animals and Friends is the official title, and while many of us might wish to transport ourselves back to 1964 to see The Animals as they once were, that's a tad awkward. Not least because one founder member, Eric Burdon,  lives in the US, and the other (who was in the band which Burdon joined with later became The Animals) lives in the UK.

Not wishing to misrepresent what they do, drummer John Steel's Animals has an official title, but really, aside from Burdon's special voice, this is as close as you'll get. 

The Animals must be on their fourth or fifth tour of Australia. They consistently pack out. Because they're damn good, entertaining and great fun, real and natural and the songs are powerful, still, and resonate like slow sonic booms.

John Steel is a co-founding member of the Tyneside group that changed its name to the Kansas City Five, and then (via several permutations) to The Animals in 1963 after Eric Burdon joined. Together with Mick Gallagher (replacing Alan Price in 1965 -Gallagher was the band's second keyboardist), Danny Handley on guitar and vocals and Roberto Ruiz on bass and vocals. Live, they're a royal hoot, Steel is clearly still enjoying playing live and touring.

A little perspective: Steel is 78 and, unlike most 78-year-olds, is busy cramming a dozen 90-minute gigs into 18 days, which seems a punishing enough schedule for young bands these days. He's a cheerful man, and our conversations are punctuated with laughter.