LIVE: The Average White Band @ Alive at Five, 6/15/17

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Cliff Lyons
Cliff Lyons

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Rudy Lu, Ed Conway

“This is the Cliff Lyons Show,” declared Alan Gorrie, as the Average White Band took the stage for Alive at Five, plugged in and prepared launch a 90-minute batch of vintage funk.

Gorrie (bass, guitar and vocals) and guitarist Onnie McIntyre co-founded the band in Scotland more than 40 years ago, and they’re both still at the helm.

But Gorrie was right. It was a homecoming show for Albany native Lyons, and the spotlight was on him. The saxman has played with at least a dozen bands in Greater Nippertown over the years, from Downtime to Doc Scanlon’s Rhythm Boys to the Lustre Kings.

And he came roaring out of the block, engaging in a ferocious sax duel with tenor saxman Fred Vignor on the opening “Oh, Maceo.” And Lyons and Vignor were still red-hot as they funked up the final encore, “Pick Up the Pieces.” But it was his roaring, hot-blooded solo during “A Love of Your Own” that ranked as Lyons’ highwater moment.

Along the way, Lyons proved to be multi-talented, adding background vocals on such selections as “Queen of My Soul” and the encore “Person to Person.” And he chimed in with some keyboard playing as well.

With lead vocalist Brent Carter and his soaring falsetto at the microphone, the band sounded as funky as it ever did during their 40-year-plus career, with such time-honored hits as “Cut the Cake” and “School Boy Crush,” as well as their cover of the Isleys’ “Work to Do” as stand-out selections on the setlist.

Albany’s own Victory Soul Orchestra opened the show with a mighty funky all-instrumental set of their own, their horn-fueled sound beefed up with the recent addition of trombonist Dave Paul. And even when the skies opened up about 20 minutes into their hour-long set, few in the crowd headed for home, and the dancers simply kept on dancing in the rain.

GO HERE to see more of Rudy Lu’s photos of this concert…

SECOND OPINIONS
Frankie Cavone’s photographs at NYS Music

Brent Carter
Brent Carter
Fred Vigdor and Cliff Lyons
Fred Vigdor and Cliff Lyons
Fred Vigdor
Fred Vigdor
Rocky Bryant and Alan Gorrie
Rocky Bryant and Alan Gorrie
Rocky Bryant (photo by Ed Conway)
Rocky Bryant (photo by Ed Conway)
Victory Soul Orchestra
Victory Soul Orchestra
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