“If you can’t afford my ticket, go see these guys – they’re just as good and half the price!” is Rod Stewart’s advice talking of his long standing lead guitarist and co-writer Jim Cregan of Cregan and Co. Rod was wrong in only one respect. Tickets to this Warthog gig were even better value than Rod suggested.
Cregan was spotted by Stewart when playing Make Me Smile (Come up and See Me), with Steve Harley’s Cockney Rebel in the mid 70s, and soon became a collaborator as well as band member. His last outing with Stewart was in Radio 2’s massive Hyde Park gig in 2015 which rather over-shadowed the ‘Lowdham Indoor Arena’ in size if not appreciation.
Cregan, with lead singer and former X Factor semi-finalist, Ben Mills, were supported by Geoff Dunn (Procol Harum) on drums, Pat Davey (bass) and Sam Tanner taking the Ian McLagan role on keys. Whilst the combo are used to playing far more prestigious venues than Lowdham Village Hall, they were having a fantastic time and their enthusiasm was truly infectious which certainly rubbed off on all present. If you can’t have Rod, then Mills is a mighty fine substitute, with his gravelly tones doing Rod’s canon proud.
Cregan and Co blitzed through Stewart’s hits from the 70’s, 80s, and 90s: Baby Jane, Hot Legs, The First Cut Is The Deepest, You’re In My Heart You’re In My Soul, I Was Only Joking, Handbags and Glad Rags, Young Turks; the hits just kept flowing. Add in covers from Stewart’s’s later renaissance, Tom Waits’ Downtown Train and Van Morrison’s Have I Told You Lately That I Love You it was back to back hits with the crowd singing along. Passion, a song Cregan co-wrote, proved a coup, allowing Tanner, James, and Dunn extended solos. Indeed, it was easy to understand why Stewart has recruited Tanner in the McLagan keyboard role.
Punctuating the raft of Rod Stewart hits were a couple of numbers Cregan had recorded with other bands. The afore mentioned Cockney Rebel chart topper Make Me Smile went down a storm as did Burlesque which Cregan had recorded with Family.
Almost inevitably, Maggie May concluded the show getting the audience up on their feet and belting out the chorus. Rapturous applause and feet stamping demanded an encore. Cregan and Co did not disappoint. Incendiary versions of Twisting The Night Away and Sweet little Rock And Roller rocked the evening to a conclusion