A few years ago I was a reluctant seat occupier at a show by Al Stewart at the Liverpool Philharmonic.
I was aware of some of his songs but had long since dismissed any notions of actually listening to his stuff.
It turned out to be a pleasantly entertaining evening – and I don’t mean that to be in any way faint praise.
So this time around I went thinking it would be another pleasantly entertaining evening and, lo and behold, it was.
I still knew no more songs now than I did then but Stewart is an engaging performer with a relaxed style and plenty of tales from more than 50 years in the music business.
Getting in on Sunday proved to be a trial as we arrived at the car park as the WWE wrestling show at the Liverpool Echo Arena was emptying out and hordes swarmed the car park stairs as we tried to get down them, battling against hundreds of foam fingers.
The auditorium alongside the arena wasn’t the most atmospheric of venues, but Stewart lent it an air of geniality and intimacy, helped by the jaunty presence of long-time sideman Dave Nachmanoff and also joined during the evening by Tim Renwick who was lead guitar player on his hugely successful Year of the Cat album.
Taking the opportunity post-gig to look Renwick up I discovered he has quite the storied career having worked with Pink Floyd, David Bowie and Elton John amongst many others.
There was also a multi-instrumentalist adding saxophone, flute and percussion and at one point walking around the audience during his sax solo. Less keen on that, to be honest.
The three principal players couldn’t have looked less alike. Stewart smartly dressed in shirt and trousers like a senior civil servant who has just had time to remove his jacket and tie before being asked to get up on stage, Nachmanoff somewhat crumpled and slightly dishevelled, and Renwick in a classic older muso outfit of shapeless black t-shirt and black jeans.
Instead of having a support, Nachmanoff played three songs of his own at the start of the show’s two halves before being joined by Stewart which I thought was a good way to kick things off.
The show covered a lot of ground from career beginnings like Clifton in the Rain and stories inspired by the life of Admiral Sir John Fisher, as well as the titles tracks to the aforementioned Year of the Cat and Time Passages that were his biggest commercial successes.
If he comes round again, I’m expecting a pleasantly entertaining evening…