Angel Air [Release date: 04.08.14]
A decade has passed since the memorial concert for Ronnie Lane was held at the Royal Albert Hall, dripping with artists paying tribute to the Small Faces/Faces legend. Angel Air has taken the opportunity of this anniversary to release the gig in its entirety on two packed cds. It is also available as a DVD.
Ronnie Lane had a hugely influential career at the heart of two iconic bands, firstly The Small Faces and then The Faces. He walked out on the latter at the height of their powers in 1973 to begin the third phase of his career as a solo artist. Lane tragically died in 1997, aged only 51 of pneumonia, in the final stages of multiple sclerosis.
This concert includes healthy representation from all three phases. Material from Lane’s rich and extensive back catalogue is delivered by artists such as Slim Chance, Jones Gang, Mick Jones, Glen Matlock, Sam Brown, Ronnie Wood, Paul Weller, Pete Townshend, Ocean Colour Scene, Robert Hart, Steve Diggle, Midge Ure, Dennis Greaves, Deborah Bonham Band and Chris Farlowe.
Such tribute nights can be hit and miss affairs (and this one took 15 months to put together). However, what shines through the evening like a beacon is the warmth and respect in which Lane was held by his contemporaries and successors.
There are many highlights amongst the 40 or so tracks. Small World kick off the night with gusto and verve on ‘I Can’t Make It’ and ‘I’ve Got Mine’. Later, Ocean Colour Scene give a lovely feel to ‘Wham Bam, Thankyou Mam’ and ‘Done This One Before’.
Lane’s band from his solo days, Slim Chance, provide a rustic, folk-inspired backing to many of the mid-set tracks, including Pete Townshend wending a fine tale through ‘Stone’ and Mick Jones with Glen Matlock on a slightly shaky but emotion-racked ‘Debris’.
Then flip to CD 2 where the hits and classics keep coming: Paul Weller on ‘Ooh La La’, a sing-a-long ‘Itchycoo Park’, and a celebratory ‘Maggie May’ from the Jones Gang. Sam Brown joins them for an uplifting ‘Tin Soldier’.
And to close, riotous versions of ‘Stay With Me (Ronnie Wood) and, of course, ‘All Or Nothing’ (Chris Farlowe). Simply wonderful.
There are a couple of weaker contributions here that might not be worth revisiting too often. Midge Ure’s dour input does no-one any favours and an overwrought Deborah Bonham grates more than a cast iron fireplace.
That aside, fans will be delighted with the range and overall quality of the material on show. This is a joyous celebration and stands as a fitting testimonial to the heart, soul and talent of Ronnie Lane. ****
Review by Dave Atkinson
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