CORKY LAING Plays Mountain (Live)

at the Think Tank, Newcastle, U.K., November 10, 2015

CORKY LAING (Live at the Think Tank, Newcastle, U.K., November 10, 2015)
Photo: Mick Burgess

For those of us of a certain age, the build up to staying up late on a Saturday night to watch Match of the Day was shattered by a cavalcade of drums and thunderous guitars as a preview of the following day’s political programme, Weekend World was aired. What was this theme tune? It was like nothing that was played on day time radio that was more attuned to Duran Duran and The Human League. Without the aid of Shazam or the internet it took some time to discover what this wondrous sound was and that was half the fun. The other half was finally making that discovery followed by a trip to the local record shop and heading back home and plopping the record on the turntable and hearing THAT song in its full, unedited glory. Mountain was the band and Nantucket’s Sleighride the epic song.

Mountain, America’s answer to the Eric Clapton fronted Cream, delivered a thunderous, bass heavy Blues infused Rock making their big time debut at the legendary Woodstock Festival. With the imposing Leslie West on foghorn vocals and stunning guitar, Felix Pappalardi on bass and the madcap Birmingham born, Canadian bred Corky Laing on drums, Mountain forged a sound as huge as their name and blazed a trail, as early pioneers of the fledgling Heavy Rock movement.

With the tragic death of Pappalardi in the ’80s and the recent health issues of West preventing him touring it looked like the music of Mountain was consigned to being enjoyed in the recorded format only as live shows looked increasingly unlikely.

However, all was not lost. Corky Laing had other ideas. Rather than let the music fade he decided to put together a band to celebrate the music of Mountain and hit the road. Now the idea of the drummer taking over the band brings to mind such disasters as Bobby Blotzer touring as Ratt with no other original members, a move that has not gone down well with fans or former band mates. However, this is Corky Laing. Legendary drummer, pioneer and up there with the likes of Keith Moon, Carmine Appice, Ginger Baker and Mitch Mitchell for taking drumming into totally unchartered waters and for that reason alone was well worth checking out if for no other reason than seeing a master craftsman at work.

With his drum kit unusually positioned to the front of the stage and joined by guitarist Phil Baker and bassist Joe Venti, Laing spent the best part of an hour and a half running through a choice selection from Mountain’s back catalogue with the groove heavy Never In My Life and Don’t Look Around showing why Mountain were such an influence on the burgeoning Rock scene in the early ’70s.

A truly dramatic Nantucket’s Sleighride, sounding every bit as thrilling on stage as hearing it for the first time all those years ago on TV along with Guitar Hero favourite Mississippi Queen complete with clanking cowbell shifted the show up a gear or two.

Seeing Laing in full flow was a real pleasure. Not just seeing the outrageous drum fills, the wild flailing arms or the manic grins while hammering the cowbell to within an inch of its life but seeing a musician who has been doing this for nigh on half a century still bubbling with youthful enthusiasm, totally undiminished by the passage of time. Here was someone who clearly loved their craft and that passion rubbed off on the crowd.

Laing was also the master raconteur, telling stories of life on the road, bagging two Gold discs for the Woodstock live album, a show he never played at and managing a mashed up rap during his centre piece drum solo romp through Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone which was both highly amusing and enjoyable while avoiding the trap that most drum solos fall into.

On a lighter note Yasgur’s Farm and Theme From An Imaginary Western varied the tone before Travelling In The Dark saw Laing draw on hidden reserves of energy. Laing delivered a fitting tribute to his old friend Jack Bruce with a superb take on the West Bruce and Laing classic Doctor and a mini Cream medley featuring Politician and Sunshine of Your Love.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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