Average White Band: Edinburgh, Scotland

“I’VE GOT an announcement to make,” Alan Gorrie told a sold out Edinburgh audience the night after Scotland had beaten England. “If there’s any dodgy singin’ tonight it’s because of the match”. Alan and the rest of the Average White Band had yelled so loud for Scotland the previous day, they were a bit concerned about the vocal quality on the second night of their first British tour in two years. They need not have worried.

Despite the present musical overkill circulating Britain now that the tax year has ended, the Average White Band stand no chance of being ignored. They have returned victoriously to their home turf, easily displaying skills that have been greatly developed and carefully matured living in America. It was the second Scottish performance for drummer Steve Ferrone and by the time he appeared in a kilt in the encore, ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’, it was obvious he had added a new dimension to the increasingly rhythmic delicasies of the group.

From the kick off ‘Cut The Cake’ it was evident that the Average White Band were determined to live up to their well earned reputation as primary exponent of blue eyed soul. Although they only previewed one song ‘Going Home’ from their up coming Soul Searching it was obvious that the band has found the perfect groove and lovingly exploited it. Onni McIntyre has become a very substantial rhythm guitarist while Hamish Stewart and Alan Gorrie switch from bass to guitar adding another soulful dimension to each number. The Dundee Horns consisting of Molly Duncan and Roger Ball dominate the lead lutes in an engaging melodic way.

The concert really took off with an inspiring rendition of ‘If I Ever Lose This Heaven’ featuring an incredibly sensual and soulful vocal from Hamish Stewart, injected with some immaculate guitar playing from McIntyre. ‘Work To Do’ was equally electric.

Undeniably, the Average White Band are the best white soul band in existence. From the low-key pretty funk of ‘Cloudy’ to the re-vamped version of ‘TLC’ the band went from strength to strength. After kicking out the solo jams tastefully, an extended ‘Pick Up The Pieces’ had the crowd up and jiving.

If anything their weakness lies in the very perfection of a sound they have lovingly and naturally created. Ironically they are almost too good at what they do. Too many of their songs follow the same infectious funky format.

But perfections aside, the Average White Band is keeping a sagging disco scene alive. After all they are a dance band which owes little to the crass Radio One hustle.

Their ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ encore proved their musical worth while flaunting every band members’ capabilties. Hamish Stewart has become an outstanding vocalist with Alan Gorrie supplying strong vocal support.

Certainly Scotland’s victory over England must typify the intending success the Average White Band will enjoy throughout their British tour. That dodgy singing sounded great.

© Barbara CharoneSounds, 22 May 1976

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