Albert Lee and Hogan’s Heroes and Chantel McGregor live at The Brisbane House Hotel in Largs
I must be going up in the world. The venue even has a car park. It also has seats. Quick check. Yes, it is the right place. I really should have worn a tie. The tie with no curry stains on it at that.
Without further ado, let's get to the music. First on was Chantel McGregor. I vaguely remembered hearing about her before and was expecting a blues/rock gone acoustic sound from her. The MTV unplugged kind of thing if you like. Instead, what you got was a demonstration of her ability as an interpreter of songs. While showing a polish that belied her few years on the stage of life, she also managed to put an emotional intensity into each and every word that she sang and that convinced all that heard her. One to watch is a much overused phrase today but I reckon that she is.
Then it was time for the main event. This being the only Scottish date for Albert Lee and Hogan's Heroes, the audience consisted mainly of long time fans and they got what they paid for. Mr Lee - respect is due here - never put a finger wrong on the fretboard and played with a precision other guitarists can only dream of in a collection of songs that were alternately a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n' roll. Likewise the band made it all look easy with Gerry Hogan showing that you can never have too much pedal steel in a song. Ever. In fact, I think I might buy me a pickup truck just to have an excuse to play more country music.
Doing two sets meant that a thorough trawl through the band's back catalogue could be undertaken as well. There were plenty of playful moments as this is undoubtedly a good time band but - in another unexpected turn - the most emotionally rewarding songs were those when Mr Lee put down his trademark guitar, sat down at the keyboards and sang songs that belong to the heart.
So, an interesting compare and contrast situation. Albert Lee and Hogan's Heroes as the old hands and Chantel McGregor as the new kid on the block. Both proved that, in the end, it is talent and hard work that wins over an audience.
March 15 2010
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