To an Andy Fairweather Low gig in our local theatre on Saturday. Andy is not immediately recognisable as the wry-smiling, mod-idol lead singer of Amen Corner that many people remember (Bend Me Shape Me, Hello Susie, (If Paradise is) Half as Nice). I don't just mean that he is 40 years older; I mean he doesn't look quite like you would expect an older version of his younger self to look. And then he sings in that characteristic, melodious but slightly strangled high-register, and you know him instantly.
Andy is a self-effacing giant in the world of rock and roll, a musicians' musician. Still remembered mainly (and fondly) for Amen Corner's three brief years and for his 1970s solo hits like the hauntingly worded Wide Eyed and Legless and the funky Reggae Tune, he has played with a long list of greats, including Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, George Harrison, BB King, Bill Wyman, Van Morrison, Linda Ronstadt and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters. He has performed and recorded with Eric Clapton for over a decade, played a leading part in The Concert for George in 2002, and most recently released a superb, bluesy album, Sweet Soulful Music, in 2006 - his first solo album for 26 years.
As the gig progressed, it dawned just what a stunning guitarist, songwriter and singer he is. Supported by his band, The Low Riders - Drums, Paul Beavis (Thea Gilmore); Hammond Organ, Richard Dunn (Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Gene Pitney, Neils Lofgren, Van Morrison); Bass, Dave Bronze (Procol Harum, Dr. Feelgood, Clapton, Concert for George) - this was a treat. On stage and at the signing session afterwards, Andy came across as a pleasant, modest bloke with a dry sense of humour and a genuine interest in his audience. A lot more dineable than the average rock star, I doubt he's ever smashed anything at the end of a performance. We have tickets for Clapton in a few weeks time, but I suspect the belting intimacy of Saturday's gig may prove to have been the bigger treat.
Andy Fairweather Low is touring Wales, England and Scotland until August. Tour dates here. If you have the chance to see him, you really won't regret it. A new album, The Very Best of Andy Fairweather Low - The Low Rider, is released on 23 June. We haven't stopped playing it.
Addendum: AFL's web site has some good tracks on. Find them here.