It’s difficult to reconcile the terse, gruff Glaswegian voice of the man in the grey suit taking centre-stage with the clear and soulful falsetto which cuts through the room and every listener in it. Yet on some level – a very deep one, to fans of his old band – Hamish Stuart’s vocal style is iconic. Age brings a certain crispness to it, but he still sounds wonderful, both on Average White Band material and on the more traditional jazz styles which which he infused this show.
West Princes Street Gardens Spiegeltent ****
This wasn’t a night for his old group, however – well, not entirely – nor was it one for his more recent project 360, featuring former AWB members Malcolm Duncan and Steve Ferrone . Instead, this was Stuart’s own band, a sextet including himself, and a set which promised we would be “flying about the decades”. A former player with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan, the guitarist has built a strong repertoire of his own over the years.
From his 1999 debut solo album Sooner or Later came the wistful moonlit jazz of Midnight Rush; from 360’s record, the emotional Wordsworth (written “when times were not so good,” he told us, “but hey, they get better”); and a fond penultimate farewell with Leonard Bernstein’s Some Other Time. That wasn’t the finale proper, however; instead, AWB’s Let’s Go Round Again, Person to Person and the closing Pick Up the Pieces inspired nostalgic dancing in the aisles after an evening of tightly-played reserve.