Camden Jazz Cafe, London
9th October 2014
Average White Band veteran and McCartney band member Hamish Stuart treats his audience to a guitar master class and exhilarating funk work out.
Seeing Hamish Stuart deputising for an an absent Albert Lee in Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings last July enticed me to check if he had any gigs lined up with his own band over the next couple of months. After touring and recording for a ten year period with The Average White Band, Stuart became a session man which led him to do a four year spell in Paul McCartney’s band between 1989 and 1994. He also toured with Ringo Starr between 2006 and 2008 and he currently plays bass with Lulu.
In between all those commitments he stills manages to find time to sustain a solo career and he released his first solo album Sooner Or Later, in 1999. He plays regularly at 606 Jazz Club in Chelsea and the odd live date with his cracking backing band.
The gig at the Jazz Cafe was advertised as being with a horn section so it promised to be a special evening and one where we would be treated to faithful renditions of some of the AWB’s greatest tunes. The venue was a bit empty when I arrived but had filled up nicely by the time Hamish and his band came on stage just after 9pm (though nothing like the Tony Joe White gig I attended in the same place last year). Hamish’s old colleagues from the AWB are playing there next December for two nights and one show is already sold out, it’s amazing how a brand can help sell tickets (only two members from the original line-up are still in the band).
The show started with Midnight Rush, a track from Sooner Or Later which was followed by an excellent version of Atlantic Avenue from the AWB’s 1979 album Feel No Fret. Far from sticking to a greatest hits formula of his former band’s old hits, Stuart played several new songs over the course of the evening. One stood out : How The Mighty Fall, a tribute to Muhammad Ali, an exhilarating 13 minutes funk workout with some very impressive guitar solos courtesy of Adam Phillips.
Another highlight of the evening was a hard-hitting version of Watcha Gonna Do For Me, with an extended middle jam featuring a great keyboard solo from Ross Stanley. Stuart seemed to be enjoying himself immensely and relishing every minute of playing with such accomplished musicians (he even joked that half the time he didn’t know what was going on).
Two tunes from AWB’s landmark 1976 album were aired: Queen Of My Soul and Love Of Your Own. The night closed with an excellent version of Just For A Thrill, a song originally made popular by Aretha Franklin and then by Pick Up The Pieces, the AWB’s most successful song.
You can find out a bit more on Hamish at his own record labels’s website Sulphuric Records.
All words by Craig Chaligne. More of Craig’s work for Louder Than War can be found in his author’s archive.