Putting it on for Pete

PUBLISHED: 11:33 14 February 2008 | UPDATED: 12:57 06 May 2010

Pete performs

Pete performs

IT MUST have been the hottest ticket in town when a dozen of St Albans finest musos took to the stage of the The Maltings Arts Theatre on Saturday night. Sold out weeks in advance, the crème de la crème were there to help launch Pete Waters eponymous ne

IT MUST have been the hottest ticket in town when a dozen of St Albans' finest musos took to the stage of the The Maltings Arts Theatre on Saturday night.

Sold out weeks in advance, the crème de la crème were there to help launch Pete Waters' eponymous new CD.

The night got off to a rousing start with The Stacey Smith Band who blew everyone away. Memo to Pete: Bad choice for a warm-up band because this lot were so on-the-boil that they actually took the audience hostage.

Singer-songwriter Stacey herself was a revelation with such a polished performance and such excellent stagecraft that I'm sure we will be seeing more of this Annie Lennox-lookalike.

It was a family affair with dad Bryan Smith on guitar and brother Darren on drums.

But the main event did not disappoint.

Pete himself - newly-dolled up in an extremely sharp suit - bounded onto the stage with his core band of John Devine, Pete Ridley, Bruce Fursman, Barry Evans, Bryan Smith, Julianne Healey and Steve Rodford (of The Zombies) on drums, with backing singers Helen Flanagan and Stacey Smith. Other guest artistes who stepped in and out through the night were the great guitar guru Bernie Devine and saxophonist Jez Guest, so at times there were a dozen people on stage.

Considering many people in the audience had never heard the songs before, they appeared to be absolutely loving it!

One tiny niggle was that the vocals were drowned out a bit by the instruments but apart from that the sound was superb.

I loved Pete's faux-naif comment that many of his songs centred around drinking too much and losing women and wondering if there was a connection.

Pete comes from a long line of Irish singers and musicians with the main emphasis being on the singing. His voice peculiarly lends itself on this album to the Irish-style ballad, country music, rock and roll and disco funk. He is by turns mournful, bitter and funny. His songwriting "voice" is probably at its best on Everything I've Learned About You - an edgy reflection on a love affair gone wrong viewed with icy detachment from a safe distance. So if you want to pin his music down, forget it. He is equally at home in melancholy mode in No Fixed Abode or in the upbeat appeal to Do The Best You Can. Influences include Squeeze with an irreverent working-class up-against-it attitude doubtless honed by years of grafting on building sites.

Despite the recurrent riff of love gone wrong, his humour always saves him from tipping over into misogyny.

Going by the buzz from the audience I'd say the evening had been an overwhelming success.

MARY BROSNAN

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