Albert Lee rocks the nursing home

Albert Lee & Hogan’s Heroes yesterday played a full two hour set at Berlin Club Quasimodo – what a joy. Attended by an audience mainly older than me (i’m 55 now) and partly as old as 70 year-old Lee himself (that grandma in the blue shirt was really rocking and dancing). Lee and his bandmates started some fast country-rockers, moved over to rockabilly (which seems to be the biggest musical influence to all band-members) and never let down. Some softer ballads in between, where Lee played a wonderful sounding Yamaha CP-70 and his keyboarder Gavin Povey showed his skills in singing.

Lee has the unique gift of playing his licks incredibly fast without ever letting us feel this. Even at the highest tempo (and this is a really really fast band) it always sounds, as if every note has to be that way – no tricks, no showmanship and no doodling. The most amazing moments of this gig were the parts, when the musicians took over in the middle of the verse, the piano continuing the ultra-fast lick Lee started with pedal-steel closing the verse.Lee uses (as far as i could see) none of the usual effects at all – it’s just him, his Music-Man guitar and a Fender-Amp with 4 X 12“ speakers. And he knows, what he is worth: When playing his ultimate tricky and special high-speed soli, Albert Lee turned away from the audience to hide his left hand. Not every dummy with a cell-phone video should be able to imitate his trademark playing after rehearsing 2 months guided by a 2 minute youtube-clip. That’s alright, mama!

And the audience was caught by this immediately – just 10 minutes and the whole club was moving and dancing as one crowd. You would never call this straight country music. Even in the most traditional country songs the chord-progressions and licks sound heavily british and pop-oriented, as if the Beatles had been influenced by rockabilly and country stuff. Completely traditional music delivered by astonishing musicans, who love this kind of eclectic rockabilly. A good professional band should (to my opinion) always be able to entertain a truck-stop or play a wedding. But these guys could rock a stadium full of elderly peoply plus their kids. Amazing!

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