Marty Stuart & The Fabulous Superlatives, The Wandering Hearts, Walker McGuire Cadogan Hall
A second sighting of the week for Walker McGuire who had the job of opening to a small but select group of fans due to the somewhat early start and finish that is dictated by holding events at Cadogan Hall. Having said that, a considerable number were sporting Walker McGuire t shirts obtained from their performance on Monday who were back for more. Sometimes seeing someone in quick succession can let daylight in upon magic, the anecdotes are the same, the songs are the same even the so called ad libs are the same but not tonight with Walker McGuire who opened with “Back Together” immediately establishing their witty lyrics and harmonies somewhat nasally but extremely effective.Sartorially they scored 10 with one in a cut down Alan Jackson t shirt while the other sported one with “I Support Tom Petty”, and musically they were also scoring high with their single “Mysteries Of The World” which will get some people heading to google to find out who “DB Cooper” was which can only be a good thing! The fact that is mixes classic mysteries with the mundane only adds to the charm of the song. As stated earlier this was no repeat showing and so there was a debut for their attempt at a John Mellencamp and “18 Forever” was a mighty impressive attempt on first listen.
They announced themselves as being an “alcohol free band”, and just let that hang in the air for a few seconds before adding that would gladly take “any free alcohol” which was a good link in to the Mexican romp that is “What’s Her Name”. The good news for all Walker McGuire fans is that there is not a long wait for the album, as it is due in December. There was another run through for the Luke Combs co-write and current top 5 hit “When It Rains It Pours” before closing in excellent style with “Til Tomorrow” with its excellent chorus – Can’t wait to see if they can pull out a third show on Friday
The Wandering Hearts TEAMw21 previously seen gracing the stages of Dingwalls and Northampton so it was nice to see them in a grand venue like Cadogan Hall. Currently signed to Universal via Decca it is refreshing that having a big label sponsor has not involved them having to make compromises, forinstance, they opened with “Something In The Water” that certainly placed them at the front of the queue should there be a need for a yodelling revival. Looking fantastic, sounding superb The Wandering Hearts are a sight to behold, and the sight of four vocalists in full flow as they were on their debut single “I Wish I Could” was awesome. For their song “Bridges” the band went from being acoustic to completely unplugged as they moved to the front of the stage to sing off mic. With only the sound of the guitar being hit as percussion and the barest of noises coming from the bass and guitar, all that was left to fill the empty silence of Cadogan Hall were the most beautiful sweetest of harmonies in what was a very special moment. Their next single will be “Heartbreak Hotel” and curiously their final song “Devil (in disguise)” completed a pair of songs with Elvis Presley titles that were not covers, they have a forthcoming show at the Borderline and are well worth checking out.
C2C 2017 may have been headlined by the likes of Zak Brown, there may have been stunning debuts from the likes of Brothers Osborne but did anyone really exceed expectations like Marty Stuart? From the moment he took to the O2 stage he was an absolute sensation. Now back, not just for a one off show but an entire UK tour could Marty and the Fabulous Superlatives do it again? The audience tonight definitely a mixture of long term fans and recent converts, were to love every second, the only complaint they would leave with at the end of the night was of the Cadogan Hall curfew which meant the show had to end at 22:00.
They started where they had left off at the O2 ripping through versions of “Stop the World And Let Me Off”, “Whole Lotta Highway”, The Whiskey Ain’t Working Anymore” and “Tempted” with an enthusiasm that you’ll rarely see anywhere else. When they went acoustic and all stood at the front of the stage around one microphone for “Ol Mexico” it was magical and when on “Life Has It’s Little Ups And Downs” Marty was accompanied by the Cadogan Hall choir as the crowd found their voice
A night with Marty is like spending time with your favourite teacher at school who could bring the subject alive, Marty doesn’t just do a cover, he’ll tell you who wrote it, and will undoubtedly have an outstanding anecdote. Take Johnny Cash’s “Live At Fulsom Prison”, apparently Marty’s favourite record ever. There were obvious cuts he could have played, easy choices that the audience would have lapped up, however he chose “The Wall” mainly played solo to a an audience hooked on every word, and his second choice the equally lesser known “Greystone Chapel” came with a fantastic story of how it was written by a prisoner and that Johnny had learnt the lyrics the night before the recording, If Marty wasn’t telling us these stories and singing these songs who else would, and that’s withough mentioning the glory that is “El Paso” or the anecdote that comes with “Orange Blossom Special”
No review of Marty Stuart would be complete without mention of his backing band the Fabulous Superlatives. Few other front men would allow the members of their backing bands time to show their talents, few backing bands would have the talent to take the opportunity. First up guitarist Cousin Kenny Vaughan, impossibly tall, implausibly thin and with an expression that for the most part could best be described as deadpan. He fired off “Country Music’s Got A Hold On Me” followed by the boogie of “Hot Like That”. He may have whispered a quiet “Thank You London” before resuming his position, remarkably unassuming incredibly talented. Next up Professor Chris Scruggs, looking like he had just been transported from an episode of Ready Steady Go”, he has a number of classic 60’s guitar poses such as the way he occasionally holds his bass guitar vertically. For his slot his instrument of choice was acoustic guitar as the others left the stage to let him play a delightfully touching “Old Souls Like You and Me.
The encores had to literally be squeezed in, starting with an instrumental, there then followed a song that had gone down a storm earlier in the year “Time Don’t Wait For Nobody” which was a message to us all followed by a cracking “Hillbilly Rock” that had everyone standing and clapping. There was a little sombre moment at the end, Marty came to the microphone and with a slight crack in his voice said “When we left to come here Tom Petty was well and Las Vegas was just Sin City” he never really finished the comment, he didn’t need to we knew what he meant. As if to emphasize that there were no words to convey the horrors of Monday, the closing song was an instrumental.
Marty said he’s just trying to keep “traditional country alive”, let’s hope he can do that for many more years to come.