Presented by Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed 11 August 2018
The guitarist’s guitarist, Albert Lee, hasn’t been to Australia for many a year. So this tour, for his 75th birthday, has been long-awaited by musical fans.
Opening for Lee was The Turner Brown Band. Australia’s darling of slide, Dom Turner, has teamed up with the Queen of sacred steel, Nikki Brown, to deliver an outfit that blends gospel and blues in a marriage made in musical heaven. Their half-hour set gave off enough energy to rival the national grid, including a bluesy version of Amazing Grace and a definitive rendering of the Sam Cooke classic Change Gonna Come. The musicianship was impeccable: so much so that, very unusually for a support act, many audience members lept to their feet at the end of the set.
This perfection and power were (literally) a hard act to follow, but there were high expectations for the main feature, Albert Lee. Sadly, those expectations were not really met.
Lee and his band served up an hour of very nice songs, played very well, and with some personable chat from Lee himself. Work included numbers by Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Ray Charles, Carl Perkins and Jimmy Webb (the latter, rather oddly, seeing Lee on the Roland for just that one tune). There were no guitar solos to speak of, and little display of what one might call “virtuosity”; somewhat odd considering the fact that he is performing under the auspices of a guitar festival. The set also leant towards “poppy” rock and country ballads, with the blues being notable by its absence.
It was all just good quality, very ordinary, music. Just not good enough to justify the price of admission, nor the hype.
The Turner Brown Band on the other hand…if they come back to Adelaide, I predict seats will sell out within the twang of a C chord.
Reviewed by Tracey Korsten