02 March 2014 (gig)
03 March 2014
There aren’t too many around who are genuinely called legends but there is little doubt that Albert Lee should get the accolade. He has been around since the fifties and played with almost everyone but his band Albert Lee & Hogan’s Heroes is still to be seen playing small and intimate venues around the UK and he chose the Cadogan Hall for his 70th birthday celebration only to see the first date sell out in hours and so the second date was added.
The format was pretty much as one might have expected: Albert and his band – in this case Andy Fairweather's Low Riders– welcoming stars on stage to join Albert for a couple of songs and then moving on to be replaced by the next. The whole evening was compered by Mike Read and in between they showed video greetings from the likes og Eric Clapton, Joe Bonamassa, Emmylou Harris and many others. The capacity crowd were kept entertained for nearly three hours of superb music and the sound was as good as I had ever heard at the Cadogan Hall. All in all a great night.
Of the stars who performed with Albert they cut across virtually all sides of Blues, Country, rock and roll and the like with names such as Gary (US) Bonds followed by Chris Farlowe and the Shadows taking to the stage and showing Lee’s versatility and virtuosity. He played with the original Drifters (later renamed as the Shadows) before Cliff came along and worked with Farlowe and the Thunderbirds in the sixties, leaving in 1968. Shaking Stevens was brought on for a couple of numbers and showed that he actually can sing apart from his ‘pop’ material.
Joe Brown came on allowing Albert to show off his mandolin skills and Marty Wilde brought both his daughters on to sing a couple of rock and roll classics before Chas and Dave played a few of their greatest hits and had the audience rocking along with them (Albert played with Chas Hodges in Heads, Hands & Feet in the early seventies). One of the highlights of the evening was Bill Wyman coming on for a couple of numbers – Lee had been a member of Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings from the start.
As befits a man who played as the ‘Third Everly’ for over twenty years after organising the Everly Brothers reunion show in 1983 there were plenty of Everly Brothers songs scattered around the acts, all familiar and sounding surprisingly fresh.
Albert performed with his daughter, with his son and finally with his band for the last half an hour and there wasn’t a moment when you wondered what all the fuss was about – the man has been a true legend for many years and the love shown by his fellow performers only matched the response from his fans. A terrific evening and a celebration of one of rock’s nice guys.