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Review: Albert Lee and Hogan’s Heroes, Gateshead Old Town Hall

One of Britain's and the world's great guitarists bowled over his audience at Gateshead Old Town Hall as Martin Ellis found out

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Rock guitarist Albert Lee
Rock guitarist Albert Lee

Albert Lee, one of Britain’s greatest guitarists, is also considered by many to be one of the world’s greatest.

Over a career which started in the late 1950s, he has played with the Everly Brothers, Emmylou Harris, Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman and many others across a range of musical genres.

This concert was a first for me although Lee has played Tyneside many times with backing band Hogan’s Heroes and, more recently, with Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings.

He has a huge following with fans of rock and roll, country music and rock guitar.

They opened with Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) from their latest recording, Frettening Behaviour.

The lyrics seemed fitting for the reflections of a 70-year-old while the tune has the energy of teenager.

Much of the first set was rock and roll, featuring material from Carl Perkins and Buddy Holly. When introducing Holly’s Real Wild Child, he said it was “totally inappropriate for guys of my age”. It was a perfect fit for Lee and his band.

In the second set country music influences were stronger and for a short time the speed slowed down with another track from Frettening Behaviour, The King of Broken Hearts, led by drummer Peter Baron.

The pedal steel guitar was also more to the fore, played by Hogan Heroes namesake Gerry Hogan.

During the evening Hogan alternated between acoustic guitar and pedal steel, a key element of the band’s sound, but rarely took the lead. Towards the end of the second set Gavin Povey took the lead on piano for a few numbers, swinging the music back to rock and roll.

The encore was dedicated to George Hamilton IV. Lee told the audience that both he and Hogan had played with him.

Albert Lee and his band demonstrated a high standard of musicianship. I enjoyed the music and a performance which had the gusto of youth.

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