Review: Andy Fairweather Low – Pacific Road Arts Centre, Birkenhead – 28 Nov 2009
Posted on: Monday, Nov 30, 2009
ANDY FAIRWEATHER LOW
Pacific Road Arts Centre, Birkenhead: 28.11.09
After witnessing Andy Fairweather Low’s superb show at the same venue last year, the promoters couldn’t have chosen a better performer to close the 21st International Guitar Festival of Great Britain, as the genial Welshmen and his fine band, The Low Riders, attracted a sell-out crowd to Pacific Road for two hours of musical excellence!
Andy Fairweather Low has been performing for some 45 years now, with Amen Corner providing pop hits in the 1960s, and a golden spell with A&M in the 1970s, a vast portion of the rest spent in the company of people such as Eric Clapton, Roger Waters and Bill Wyman – and it’s easy to see why he has been held in high esteem by his peers, as he is a fantastic guitarist – and whilst fronting his own band, fine writer, vocalist and raconteur.
A slight alteration to the Low Riders line-up saw saxophone player Nick Pentelow in place of keyboard man Richard Dunn, with the ‘in the pocket’ rhythm section again being his trusty lieutenants Dave Bronze (bass and vocals) and Paul Beavis (drums). Nick Pentelow, on a variety of saxophones is a fine player and his fills and solos fleshed the sound out throughout the show.
Two quite marvellous sets covered all bases, from his 60s’ pop hits, 70s’ solo numbers, and a mixed bag of blues, gospel, rock ‘n’ roll and more – all loved by the packed house and thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish – kicking off with the lovely, rolling “Natural Sinner”, another early treat being “Reggae Tune”, with his wah-wah guitar pedal getting a work out, and the gorgeous, jazzy “Champagne Melody”.
Junior Parker’s “Mystery Train” saw some dynamite guitar work, with a change of pace again for “Hymn 4 My Soul”, which Joe Cocker recorded as the title cut of his last album. The first of a brace of Jimmy Reed tunes saw a relaxed, lovely groove on “Bright Lights, Big City” – the whole band as tight as it is possible to be! The band hit a gospel groove on the Carter Family standard, “Will The Circle Be Unbroken?” – with Dave Bronze adding vocals to Fairweather Low’s.
Some more blues at the start of the second set featured Arthur Crudup’s “My Baby Left Me” and “It Hurts Me Too”, with clarinet solo from Nick Pentelow, with the second Jimmy Reed song, “Peeping And Hiding” – and a rollicking electric guitar instrumental on “Lightnin’ Boogie” – some Lightning Hopkins flavoured blues, with some truly inspiring guitar work.
He dipped into some pop with Roy Wood’s “Hello Susie”, with his big solo hit “Wide Eyed And Legless” ending the show, leading into the encores of Amen Corner songs, starting with their first single, “Gin House Blues”, and the big hits “Bend Me Shape Me” and “(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice – both over 40 years old, but still sounding fresh! That seemed to be show over, but he and the band were enticed back for one more number, the very appropriate, “When You’re Smling”, to end a truly memorable evening.