Half Moon Putney, London
4th March 2015
Albert Lee fronts a new line-up of Hogan’s Heroes for the start of his 2015 European tour. Louder Than War’s Craig Chaligne reviews.
Still cursing myself for having missed the two concerts organised last year at Cadogan Hall for Albert’s 70th birthday, I made sure I purchased a ticket for his return at The Half Moon well in advance (good planning as it sold out two weeks before the date).
Albert spent years backing the greats of the music world (Eric Clapton, The Everly Brothers, Emmylou Harris) but since the mid-80s he’s also fronted his own outfit (put together by pedal steel player Gerry Hogan).
The band at first was primarily a live act but they started putting out studio albums at the turn of the millennium. After a stable line up for years, the band has been through some changes recently due to original members Pete Wingfield and Brian Hodgson stepping down for personal and health reasons.
The show at The Half Moon featured new members Dona Oxford on keyboards (a friend of Albert who played at his birthday bash last year) and Chris Palmer on bass. The touring schedule of the band isn’t for the faint-hearted so it’s inevitable that some members have to step aside at some point. They’re taking a break after their tour finishes in May so it was the last chance to catch them in London for a while.
The band play mostly covers with the odd original song thrown in and opened with Fats Domino’s “I’m Ready” and Rodney Crowell’s “One Way Rider” which have long been staples of Albert’s live sets. The original “Your Boys” from his 1982 self-titled LP was followed by a rollicking version of Carl Perkins’ “Restless” that featured a pedal steel solo courtesy of Gerry Hogan. Far from keeping the mic for himself, Albert shared the singing duties with drummer Peter Baron and Dona Oxford. Dona is a great addition to the band as she’s as outgoing as Albert’s self effacing. She really won the crowd over with a soulful performance of her song “He’s my Baby” and her signature instrumental piece “Boogie Woogie” that prompted the band leader to say “How you’re supposed to follow that ?” when it ended.
We were treated to great versions of “Take Your Time” (a Buddy Holly song) and “Sweet Little Lisa”, that introduced Albert to a new generation when he played the solo on Dave Edmunds’s cover of it in 1979. The second half of the evening started with The Travelling Wilburys “Handle With Care”, a song that Albert played on at George Harrison’s memorial concert at The Royal Albert Hall in 2002 and “Luxury Liner”, a Gram Parsons’ number Albert recorded with Emmylou Harris. Jimmy Webb’s “Highwayman” provided him with a chance to display his skills on keyboard and the show closed with our host’s signature song “Country Boy” which was topped by an encore featuring his son Wayne Lee on keyboard on Johnny Burnette’s “Tear It Up”.
Further info on Albert Lee and Hogan Heroes can be found at their official website: albertleeandhogansheroes.com.
All words by Craig Chaligne. More from Craig can be found at his Author Archive.