Chris Rea – In Concert – Shepherd’s Bush, London – 1998 – BBC Radio 1
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Taking things down a few percentage points, Singer-Songwriter Chris Rea in concert at Shepherd’s Bush in London in 1998 and recorded and broadcast by BBC Radio 1 In Concert series.
British Hit Singles & Albums stated that Rea was “one of the most popular UK singer-songwriters of the late 1980s” and “already a major European star by the time he finally cracked the UK Top 10 with the release of the single ‘The Road to Hell (Part 2)'”, which was his 18th chart entry. Two of his studio albums, The Road to Hell and Auberge, topped the UK Albums Chart. Rea was nominated three times for the Brit Award for Best British Male Artist: in 1988, 1989 and 1990. His other hit songs include “I Can Hear Your Heartbeat”, “Stainsby Girls”, “Josephine”, “On the Beach”, “Let’s Dance”, “Driving Home for Christmas”, “Working on It”, “Tell Me There’s a Heaven”, “Auberge”, “Looking for the Summer”, “Winter Song”, “Nothing to Fear”, “Julia”, and “If You Were Me”, a duet with Elton John.
In the United States he is best known for the 1978 song “Fool (If You Think It’s Over)”, which reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. This success earned him a Grammy nomination as Best New Artist in 1979. As of 2009, he had sold more than 30 million albums worldwide.
It was at the comparatively late age of 21–22 that Rea bought his first guitar, a 1961 Hofner V3 and 25-watt Laney amplifier,after he left school. He played primarily “bottleneck” guitar, also known as slide guitar. Rea’s playing style was inspired by Charlie Patton whom he had heard on the radio. He had initially thought Patton’s playing sounded like a violin. Rea was also influenced by Blind Willie Johnson and Sister Rosetta Tharpe as well as by the playing of Ry Cooder and Joe Walsh. He was also listening to Delta blues musicians like Sonny Boy Williamson II and Muddy Waters, gospel blues, and opera to light orchestral classics to develop his style. He recalls that “for many people from working-class backgrounds, rock wasn’t a chosen thing, it was the only thing, the only avenue of creativity available for them”, and that “when I was young I wanted most of all to be a writer of films and film music. But Middlesbrough in 1968 wasn’t the place to be if you wanted to do movie scores”. Due to his late introduction to music and guitar playing, Rea commented that when compared to Mark Knopfler and Eric Clapton, “I definitely missed the boat, I think”. He was self-taught, and soon tried to join a friend’s group, The Elastic Band, as the first choice for guitar or bass. Heeding his father’s advice he did not join as his potential earnings would not be enough to cover the costs of being in the group. As a result he found himself working casual laboring jobs, including working in his father’s ice cream business. Rea commented that, at that time, he was “meant to be developing my father’s ice-cream cafe into a global concern, but I spent all my time in the stockroom playing slide guitar”.
In 1973 he joined the local Middlesbrough band, Magdalene, which earlier had included David Coverdale who had left to join Deep Purple. He began writing songs for the band and only took up singing because the singer in the band failed to show up for a playing engagement. Rea then went on to form the band The Beautiful Losers which received Melody Maker’s Best Newcomers award in 1973. He secured a solo recording deal with independent Magnet Records, and released his first single entitled “So Much Love” in 1974. The band itself split up in 1977. In 1977 he performed on Hank Marvin’s album The Hank Marvin Guitar Syndicate and also guested on Catherine Howe’s EP The Truth of the Matter. He recorded his first album that same year, but according to Michael Levy (co-founder of Magnet) the recordings were literally burned and started over again because it did not capture his whole talent.
This concert is from 1998 and ties in with the release of his 14th album, Blue Cafe.
Slow down and have a listen.