AVERAGE White Band have been entertaining audiences for more than 40 years with their enticing mix of funk and soul. Although everyone understandably is getting a little creakier around the edges – audiences and band members – it’s hard to watch one of their concerts without grooving to their tunes.
Although most of the music they play harks back to before the Millennium, the audience wouldn’t want it any other way. They demand the instrumental beauty of Pick Up The Pieces and a fistful of other hits besides – the likes of Work To Do, Let’s Go Round Again and Cut The Cake.
On July 1, at the Royal Albert Hall in London, AWB delivered in spades as they played the hits that made them famous in the 1970s. While the hall was not quite full, the band were obviously thrilled to be playing in such august surroundings. By the end of the night, most of the audience – whether at the front or up in the proverbial Gods – were up off their feet and boogying like they had been thrown back in time. Dancing round handbags as if they were teenagers.
AWB 2019 is a little remodelled from the AWB of the 1970s although Alan Gorrie (lead vocals, bass, guitar) and Onnie McIntyre (guitar, vocals) remain the band’s backbone, its engine room. Vital Dundee cogs in a well-oiled machine. The added pieces – Cliff Lyons and Fred ‘Freddy V’ Vigdor on alto and tenor saxophone respectively and Brent Carter on vocals – give the band a 2019 cutting edge.
A thumping Rocky Bryant on drums and Rob Aries on keyboards complete the team. A thrilling mix of entertainers (Lyons and Vigdor are a super double sax act) and spine tingling vocals (Carter is exceptional).
The hits kept coming from the off with the first set dominated by tracks from the 1974 White album – the likes of You Got It, Got The Love (Carter excelling), Person To Person, Keepin’ It To Myself, Work To Do (provoking mass dancing), Nothing You Can Do, I Just Can’t Give You Up and of course the instrumental genius of Pick Up The Pieces.
The second set included When Will You Be Mine, Walk on By, Cut The Cake, A Love Of Your Own (sax extraordinaire from Lyons), Atlantic Avenue (a great opening thud of drums from Bryant, followed by exquisite vocals from Carter), Put It Where You Want It (Vigdor’s sax triumphing), and a climatic Let’s Go Round Again.
Maybe AWB will not be able to go round again another 47 years but it would be wonderful if they could. Carter described their appearance at the Royal Albert Hall as one of the biggest nights of their lives. They did not let down their devoted fans. Far from it. Pieces of musical magic.