SOMETIMES, it’s a privilege to listen to live music. Especially when we live in such uncertain times and our very existence and freedoms are constantly being challenged.
On Monday night (December 20), at the fantastic 606 Club on Lots Road in London’s Chelsea, such privilege was in abundance as Hamish Stuart (ex Average White Band) demonstrated why he remains an icon of funk and soul. Although no longer a spring chicken, Stuart gave a three-hour set ( with a wee break to recharge the batteries) that enthralled and captivated the audience. Live music at its sublime best.
Stuart came prepared – bringing along a number of big guns in the shape of guitarist Adam Phillips (eat your heart out Eric Clapton), bass Steve Pearce (coolness personified) and Ian Thomas, a dead ringer for Jürgen Klopp who also knows how to play the drums..
The icing on the cake was a four-piece horn section that simultaneously thrilled while thoroughly enjoying themselves. Ross Stanley (organ) and Jim Watson (dazzling fingers on keyboard) completed the band.
No Stuart performance is complete without the music he made in his AWB days back in the 1970s. And he didn’t disappoint this time around, bookending the set with Work To Do (Phillips quite marvellous on guitar) and Pick Up The Pieces (the horns having a field day).
In between were a mellowed down Love Of Your Own (Paul Booth shining on tenor sax), Whatcha’ Gonna Do For Me (a bit hit for Chaka Khan), Queen Of My Soul (Watson extraordinary on keyboards) and Person To Person.
Yet Stuart, his voice all falsetto and soulful, doesn’t stand still. Now in his early 70’s, he’s still writing some super material as evidenced by the catchy Soul Deep Feat (played live for the first time). He also produced a delicious take on Leonard Bernstein’s classic Some Other Time – with Graeme Blevins starring on alto sax.
There was more – 360 Band numbers Wordsworth and Love And Learn (a band that Stuart formed with former AWB colleagues Steve Ferrone and Malcolm Molly Duncan), a superb How The Mighty Fall (a tribute to Muhammad Ali) and Midnight Fire with Phillips again demonstrating his utter mastery of the guitar. Love And Happiness was infused with the sound of Tom Walsh’s trumpet.
All in all, absorbing live music, enhanced by the adept way Patrick Hayes (trombone) wrote all the horn arrangements for the night’s performance.
Live music doesn’t get much better. Long live Hamish Stuart, king of my soul.