What once was the Cumberland Hotel has been refitted and reborn as the Hard Rock Hotel and what a great job they have made of it. From the moment you enter there is a sense of anticipation in the air, whether it be from the hotel guests excitedly checking in, to those supping at the circular bar or indeed those tucking into what looked to be incredibly fine plates of food. Against the side wall to the left as you enter, bands play on a large semi circular stage with a marble plinth around the outside for diners who like the really in your face experience.
As this is after all a restaurant and a bar there are a couple of concessions to be made, the volume is perhaps a tad quieter than a normal show however it was crystal clear and perfectly balanced. Because this is more of a showcase setting than a gig, the artists sets contain four or five cover songs so that a random guest may have a chance of hearing something they might know, but other than that is a regular gig. A band plays every night between 20:30 and 21:30, with tonight's one being one of the UK's finest in the shape of the mighty Morganway and on top of all that it is absolutely free to get in.
With a suitably grandiose introduction from Ray Jones preparing diners to expect something special it was time for the band to take to the stage,
Morganway are the masters of the seven song, 30 minute set but the chance to see them play an extended set with some new covers was too good to resist. The first of the night was Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" with SJ donning an acoustic guitar and channelling her inner Steve Nicks for a great version. Next up was Tom Petty's "Free Falling" and i'm sure if he was looking down he would have been nodding along approvingly to Nicole Terry's violin contributions and SJ's soaring vocals which made this version so special. From there it was over to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers for "Breaking The Girl", a cover that we first heard at C2C 2019 now sounding better than ever. At Country On The Coast, Morganway blew us away with their version of "Jolene" and tonights was no less intense, a dark brooding version that all but crackled as they played it.with a violin solo, a great piano break and a suitably wailing guitar solo.
If Dolly's version is a touch pleading, you are let in no doubt from SJ's fearsome vocals that this is more of a warning to Jolene of what will happen if you take her man "I had to have this talk with you" has never sounded more menacing!
Although we've concentrated on the covers, there should also be special mention of wondrous "London Life", full of exuberance that even saw the serving staff jigging around with an extra spring in their step while to finish there was a storming version of "Hurricane" that was a pleasure to witness. To finish Ray reminded everyone to make a note in their diaries that they were able their to see this great band for free so that they could tell their friends in years to come - which seemed a pretty good suggestion on this showing.
A great evening's entertainment, can't wait to see who they've got planned in for future weeks