It was a sultry night. Electricity was in the air – and the smell of pizza. It could have been the Strip, Broadway or Sunset Boulevard.
“We were in a joint with no toilets, tap water or leg-room. I bought a coffee. Black, strong, sweet. It came in a cardboard cup with a lid and a wooden stick. I shut my eyes and imagined it cost two bucks.”
It was a night to remember the Rat Pack, their names indelibly scored in this roll-call of song – Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jnr – and those other great crooners and showmen who got all the best tunes.
Flawless and note perfect, vocalist Iain Hunter was supported by a band of ‘hand picked’ musicians who should be (and indeed some have been) headlining gigs at the Festival in their own right. Tom Finlay (piano), Dick Lee (alto), Jonathan Green (trumpet), Tom Davis (guitar), Ed Kelly (bass) and Allen Skinner (drums) were highly polished. And we had an extra treat as Rebecca Green warmed up a packed house with two numbers.
Standard may be correct terminology, but seriously misplaced for this repertoire which ranged from LOVE to Feeling Good and from Mack The Knife to Moondance, with a host of others in between. Iain’s duet with Tom’s guitar on One For My Baby (And One More For The Road), I Left My Heart (In San Francisco) with Jonathan’s soaring trumpet solo, and the raw emotion and poignancy that came through on Mr Bojangles were show-stoppers. But Iain can do humour too (Clementine) … and languages (That’s Amore)!
The arrangements mixed the best of big band with the nuanced interplay of a smaller, looser combo – giving the front man’s delivery both command at one moment, intimacy the next and allowing plenty of opportunity for the individual musicians to shine. Acoustically The Tron Kirk is magical. I just would have liked to hear a bit more from the drums and a couple more mics to bring the crispness of the snare and hi-hat more into the overall mix would do this.
Iain wound up with an Andy Williams tribute, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. But, in response to the audience finding enough space to leap to their collective feet with shouts of ‘more’ in anticipation that they might have heard the last song, rounded off the evening with his rendition of My Way.
If you missed this hot ticket this time, it all happens again with a special Festival closing gig on Sunday 27 July at 10.00pm at the Tron Kirk, Edinburgh.