March 9, 2011

Concert #77 - Al Stewart at McCabe's Guitar Shop (July 1991)

In the summer of 1991, my music-loving niece wanted to catch a live show in LA - she was staying with us for a few weeks - but at the time, she was deep into death metal in general, and Sepultura in particular, so finding a concert of mutual interest appeared to be mission impossible. As far as I was concerned, I just wanted to take her to McCabe's, my favorite venue, fully knowing that the artists typically playing there were definitely not up her alley.

Enter Al Stewart, a musician who had all but disappeared after his fantastic string of radio hits in the seventies. Of all the artists scheduled to appear at McCabe's, Al happened to be my best bet, so I grabbed a pair of tickets and we showed up at McCabe's not really knowing what to expect. Boy, were we in for a treat!

Al Stewart came out with a guitarist by the name of Peter White - at the time, I didn't know who he was, but I certainly know now. The show started with a bouncy "Flying Sorcery", and it took me no time to realize that we were witnessing something truly special. Al and Peter went on to play one of the finest shows I have ever attended, full of great songs, great vocals, humor and Peter's out-of-this-world picking. They played "Fields Of France", "Year Of The Cat", "Josephine Baker" and many other gems.

Peter White
The highlight of the show was "On The Border", a number that kicked off with an epic intro that lasted for about two minutes and brought all of us to a state of near-frenzy. I left McCabe's utterly impressed by the quality of the show and I remember telling my niece "what a shame that the sounds of such an amazing performance just fade away, never to be heard again".

Imagine my surprise, when less than one year later, Al Stewart released a live album documenting his tour with Peter White, with some of the songs recorded right at McCabe's, at the very same concert I had attended!
"Rhymes In Rooms" remains to this day one of my all-time favorite albums, the stand-out track being, of course, "On The Border".

Here's Al Stewart and Peter White playing "On The Border" in 1988:

My niece and I in 2000

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