Despite the fact that he took the stage to a chorus of hallelujahs from backing vocalists the Diplomettes, Andre Williams is certainly no angel. In the course of his hour long set Friday night at the High Noon Saloon, the septuagenarian didn't hesitate to tell us what was on his mind. And it seemed to just be one thing, sex. With blush generating songs like "Let Me Put It In" and "Agile, Mobile, and Hostile" -- which asks "Hey baby, do you wanna make love?" and then tells you the three essential elements (hence the title) -- he managed to entertain as well as discomfit.
His other appetites haven't decreased with age either. After taking a swallow from the glass of "Bacardi, white, straight up" he had urgently requested, he commented that it was "almost better than snorting a line of cocaine," drawing enthusiastic applause from the small but adoring audience. The only sign of his age was his need to occasionally retire to a chair on stage when he wasn't singing. Disappointingly, Williams' classic "Shake a Tailfeather" was absent. However, both John Fogerty's "Proud Mary" and the Wilson Pickett signature "Mustang Sally" gave the Diplomettes yet another chance to strut their stuff behind him.
As the newest members of Iowa City's Diplomats of Solid Sound, the trio of female singers gave a voice, on covers like "Backfield in Motion" and "B A B Y," to what was primarily an instrumental band. Playing second and also backing Williams on Friday, the Diplomats began as a side project of the Bent Scepters. They play a tight blend of surf, blues, funk and rock, with organ and baritone sax augmenting the line up. While the band was terrific, the girls quickly became tedious. Much like a Saturday Night Live skit, they were entertaining at first but went on far too long.
Local openers the Nervous System had their share of surf rock moments, but also channeled influences like the Kinks and the Violent Femmes into their catchy pop. They made it worth arriving early, while Williams justified staying late.