For someone who played some of the most prestigious venues in the world as guitarist in the Rod Stewart band, as well as being a member of Cockney Rebel, Family, and recording with the likes of Cat Stevens, Jim Cregan is a most humble man. At the end of the show he could be found in the lobby casually chatting with many an audience member. He also clearly still loves playing live.
‘We’re having such a great time and hope you are to,’ he said half way into this Warthog gig in Lowdham Village Hall.
In 2011 Cregan formed his own group, Cregan and Co, as a vehicle to perform his catalogue which include many songs co-written, recorded with, or produced for, Rod Stewart. The Co part of Cregan and Co are X Factor finalist Ben Mills, adeptly delivering Rod Stewart’s vocals as well as adding guitar, Pat Davey (bass), Harry James (drums), and Sam Tanner (keyboards). All sensational musicians in their own right!
‘I hope you’re not just expecting the Rod Stewart show,’ said Cregan introducing The One That Got Away, a slice of Americana written to raise money for a charity which helps prevent suicides of US military veterans. Shane was a track written by Cregan and Elton John’s lyricist, Bernie Taupin. It was originally conceived for Roy Orbison who sadly died before he could record it but Cregan and Co have finally cut the track for their latest CD. Cregan’s guitar twang would certainly have suited the Big O.
It was at a concert after listening to Cregan’s the memorable guitar solo on Make Me Smile, Cockney Rebel’s number one that Rod Steward recruited him. Apart from this and the two afore mentioned songs, the show was pretty well all post-Faces, Stewart. The hits came one after another: Baby Jane, Hot Legs, The First Cut Is The Deepest, I Don’t Want To Talk About It, Tonight’s The Night, Forever Young, Young Turks, and so on and so on. Cregan played homage to Stewart’s lyric writing, exemplified in I Was Only Joking. It took little encouragement for folks to sing along.
Both Cregan and Mills referenced another project that Sam Tanner heads up and noted that he sells out venues in London with his own group. Blondes Have More Fun allowed Tanner to take lead vocal, as well as showcasing his rock and roll, keyboard wizardry.
It was all up on their feet for Maggie May, before the band returned for a three-track encore of Twisting The Night Away, Sweet Little Rock And Roller and the anthemic Sailing.
‘With the Rod Stewart Band, Sailing was the only song we ever used a pre-recorded backing for. In that case it was a choir. You folks will have to stand in!’ encouraged Cregan and he certainly won’t have been disappointed as to a person the crowd sang and swayed along.
For those struggling to get tickets for Rod’s latest tour, this was a pretty fine substitute.