Union chapel 18th May 2012
When I told people I was going to see Albert Hammond they responded by saying 'oh yeah, I know him, didn’t he have a few hits back in the seventies?' Well yes he did most notably 'The Free Electric Band' and 'It Never Rains In Southern California', and very good hits they were too. But the talent of Albert Hammond goes way beyond what you may remember. You will at some point have found yourself humming one of his songs and not even known it.
This guy is a song writing legend. At 68 (and looking damn good on it too) he has been writing for over 40 years and has penned songs for everyone from Johnny Cash to Radiohead. His songs have sold over 360 million records worldwide!
I can honestly say it was a pleasure to see him perform some of his songbook at the intimate Union Chapel (recently voted London's best music venue in Time Out) He performed one memorable hit after another, it was like having your ipod on shuffle. The songs of Albert Hammond have great longevity, they are classics.
He started his set with his first chart hit 'Little Arrows' recorded by Leapy Lee in the late sixties. Two more hits soon followed 'Good Looking Woman' and 'Make Me an Island' written for Irish balladeer Joe Dolan. His performance of 'I need to Be In Love' written for the Carpenters (and also Karen Carpenters favourite song she recorded) was just as heartfelt and sweet as Karen's rendition.
'I Don't wanna Lose You' (a hit for Tina Turner) The reggae influenced 'Don’t Turn Around' (Aswad and Ace of Base) and 'When I need You' (a Huge hit for Leo Sayer, written about being away from his family.) All the wonderful songs showed not only his ability as a performer, but also his versatility as a songwriter able to stand the test of time and write in different styles and genres. By the end of the evening, his powerful performances of 'One Moment In Time' (Whitney Houston) and Starships 'Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now' had the audience cheering for more. He was accompanied by two fantastic Spanish musicians on bass guitar and keyboard.
Albert says of his songwriting that he is almost a conduit for these words to come through, a musical receptor from a higher place. However these words and tunes come to him he is highly talented, an amazing word smith, poet, singer and a truly humble man. I was in absolute awe of him and his work. I couldn’t believe he hasn’t toured since 1973. I hope he decided to do another one soon, you really have to see him. He is the real deal. So very much more than a one or two hit wonder!