Andy Fairweather / Band of Friends


O2 ABC (Glasgow)

22nd Jan

Last night, at the ABC in Glasgow, I found myself at 38 years old either the second or third youngest in a crowd of about 300 people. All around me were men of distinction & women ‘of a certain age’ (who did actually look cute when the lights dropped), who would have been teenage acolytes of the two rocky-bluesy bands bands that were about to take the stage.


First up was Andy Fairweather, accompanied by the Lowriders, of whom Andy said, ‘In 51 years ive never had a better band.’ The music was tight & full of lovely juxtapositions betwen the instruments sax, drums, bass & Andy’s several guitars – & its no wonder that he’s worked with such leading luminaries as Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Bob Dylan & Jimi Hendrix.

When singing, I noticed that his lips hardly moved, & I was informed by an audience member that it was a trademark of his, that cocky little mod-smirk that made people love or hate him in equal measure. Having only 50 minutes for the entire set, there was no banter between songs, only frantic guitar-swapping & slightly quicker versions.

The songs were diverse, from Reggae to Beatles b-sides (I’ll Get You), which were lapped up by an increasingly ‘digging-it’ audience, who cheered loudly when they heard the first notes of his great classic, ‘Wide Eyed & Legless.’I especially enjoyued ‘If Paradise is half as nice,’ originally perform’d by Fairweather’s first band, Amen Corner.

The headline act was the trio BAND of FRIENDS, a tribute to the Irish guitar-god, Rory Gallagher, who died in 1995. Two of the band, bass-player Gerry McAvoy & drummer Ted McKenna, had played with Rory in the past, with – jamming for 20 years with the guy. The singer was the Dutch looklike, playalike & singlike Marcel Scherpenzeel, who did a tremendous job, but I dont the band were ready for a bunch of grumpy, over-loyal Weegies.

To some, Ballyshannon’s Rory Gallacher was & still is a hero – selling 30 million records without ever appearing on top of the pops. A member of the audience told me how he’d seen Rory’s first band, Taste, in Inverness in ’68 & seen him 15 more times.

But Scherpenzeel was no Rory, a little too static on stage; you could really at times cut the tension with a knife, shouts of ‘turn it up’coming from a crowd not quite prepared to see their hero being replaced by an imposter – & at one point a plastic empty glass whizzed Scherpenzeel’s head. Still – the timless genius of the music won out in the end, & by the final songs the crowd had finally de-shocked & warmed to the band, urged on by the ever-manic McAvoy.


Reviewer : Damo Bullen

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