Al Stewart: Birmingham Town Hall Review

Al Stewart: Birmingham Town Hall Review

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Posted 2022-10-19 by Tony Collinsfollow

Tue 18 Oct 2022

It has been almost half a century since I very nearly wore out the grooves on Al Stewart's ground-breaking folk album, Love Chronicles. Despite that, I never got around to seeing him play live throughout the passing years. But all that changed when Al took to the stage this week at Birmingham Town Hall during his latest UK tour - and it was well worth the wait. The Scottish-born folk singer, whose 1969 Love Chronicles album featured an 18-minute-long title track, was the second of 20 he would eventually release. And although Love Chronicles failed to make the final set for his Birmingham show ,his 90-minute display contained a wide variety of offerings from throughout his 60-year career. Al, who was playing in rock bands at the age of 17 before being introduced to the songs of the legendary Bob Dylan, made a welcome return to UK shores from his home in Los Angeles after a 12-month delay due to Covid restrictions.



He was backed by excellent four-piece rock band The Empty Pockets from Chicago, featuring highly talented husband and wife musicians and vocalists Josh Solomon and Erika Brett, who had earlier performed their own 40-minute set. There was also a variety of impressive contributions from multi-instrumentalist Marc Macisso, notably on saxophone and flute. Al began with a song apparently about outer space designed, he said, to get the audience's attention. Unfortunately, I was concentrating on taking pre-approved photos at the time so didn't catch any of the lyrics or, indeed, the title. But from then on he had my full attention as he continued with Antarctica from his 1988 album, Last Days of the Century, not so much about the race to the south pole but a 'cold' girlfriend.



Other varied songs were to follow, including Hanno the Navigator, about a 5th century BC explorer, and Helen and Cassandra, based on the Trojan War which, as Al said, is "as far back as I've gone". While 'Hanno' was from Al's last studio album, the 2008 Sparks of Ancient Light, he also went back almost 50 years to 1973's Past, Present and Future for Soho (Needless to Say). Al and the band also delivered an excellent rendition of Modern Times from the 2000 album of the same name. Inevitably, however, there was a lot of due deference to his platinum-selling albums, Time Passages and Year of the Cat, both released in the mid-70s. The title track of Time Passages was joined by Almost Lucy, which involved Al duetting with the delightful voice of Erika Brett. But Year of the Cat received even more attention, with the title track complemented by Broadway Hotel, One Stage Before, and the outstanding On the Border.



There was just time for one encore, and it was entirely appropriate to honour the man who made Al's folk career possible, with a rendition of Dylan's Love Minus Zero from his 1965 album, Bringing it all Back Home. Shame about there being no room for anything from Love Chronicles, but Al has promised to make every concert different during his tour. And I could always put my record on when I got home!



For further information about Al Stewart's UK dates visit alstewart.com/shows.

You can also check out future concerts at Town Hall, Birmingham, by visiting bmusic.co.uk/your-visit/town-hall

#central_birmingham
#concerts
#folk_blues_music
#music
#october
!date 18/10/2022 -- 18/10/2022
%wnbirmingham
70779 - 2023-01-26 01:49:19

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