Chas & Dave – Royal Albert Hall – 21.04.18
Arguably The Royal Albert Hall is the world’s most prestigious live concert venue. Opened in 1871 and named after Queen Victoria’s late Prince-hubby, this gaff houses the Proms each year but for all the grandeur, tonight the place might as well be your local boozer, such is the intimacy in Chas & Dave’s stage presence.
Entering through a sliding door in the stage-long-LCD-screen, there is no pomp or circumstance here, the boys just simply wave and take their place. Chas wasted no time in telling the crowd “we’ve got a new album out today” and then into the set list they go.
Mixing newer tracks with some old favourites like Wallop and The Banging In Your Head, what is immediately clear is that regardless of the age of the songs, they are catchy enough to have you humming and bopping along by the second chorus, because the beauty of a Chas & Dave track has always been it’s simplicity. These songs can be played solo on a piano or a guitar and still evoke the same joyfulness. The family-vibes are in full force tonight; Chas’s lad, Nic on drums throughout and his daughter, Kate Garner joins them for the music-hall-style Why Not Me? (Kate lovely on vocals and piano no less!). Gertcha ends the first set with the lights switched to Benidorm disco mode, the party vibe spreading throughout the room like the glorious effects of a yard of ale… Just enough time for a quick nip to the bar…
With Chas having swapped his dapper suit for a pair of smart blue-jeans, they re-emerge for the classics. Rabble rousing renditions of Brother-In-Law, I Wonder In Whose Arms and London Girls gets the room stomping, fist pumping and dancing in the aisles. This is pure cockney-stadium-rock. Quieter and thoughtful moments such as Miss You All The Time and Flying are accompanied by a string section and along with deep cut I Wish I Could Write A Love Song (“our most requested song”) allows a softer, romantic side to seep through. Back to the standards with a wonderfully energetic trip to Margate and their ode to that most famous instrument That Old Piano, a gorgeous slow bluesy shuffle gives way to new track Nothing You Can Do before the night is rounded out with the 1-2-3-KO-punch of Snooker Loopy, Rabbit, Ain’t No Pleasing You and The Sideboard Song.
This legendary band have lost none of their charm or style and especially in Chas’s case, none of his energy. His cancer has slung its hook and he can give it some welly like no one’s business. Their joint harmonies are on point. Both are very accomplished musicians and that really should not be under-estimated: Dave’s bass playing has a slickness and a groove that creates a bed for Chas’ exquisite boogie-woogie to dance along too. We’ve nearly lost this dynamic-duo twice in the past decade so to see them fully rejuvenated is heartwarming. This is Chas & Dave 2.0 and going by tonight’s gig, their systems are updated and they’re running on full power.
Words and photos: Robert Gershinson