Iain Hunter, Queen’s Hall, Saturday July 19th ***
Well, there’s a first time for everything – and it’s safe to say that Saturday night’s concert by crooner Iain Hunter was the first jazz festival gig in which the headline act offered the audience a discount on mince (ten per cent, in case you’re interested). This, after all, was the Queen’s Hall debut of the man known as “the Singing Butcher”, and, boy, was he thrilled to be on that stage.
Anyone who attended his concert and had never heard him before, however, might have been forgiven for wondering if they had gatecrashed a mega wedding reception. Why? Not just because women got up and danced in a circle, but because the star seemed to know most of the members of the audience personally. Likable and self-effacing though he was, Hunter did rather push his luck with the name-checks and dedications – so much so that it was tempting to seek out one of the former church’s donations boxes to pass among the pews as a makeshift sick bucket.
So what is it – chummy banter aside – that made the audience go bonkers for the butcher? Well, he has an appealing, commanding voice and swinging style. He sings the songs of Sinatra, Darin and co the way we remember hearing them. Singing along is not discouraged; it’s de rigueur. It’s all very familiar and enjoyable. And on Saturday, he had the accompaniment of a first-class band – led by Eliot Murray – featuring some of Scotland’s top players; something he was clearly relishing. It would have been nice to hear some instrumental solos, but this wasn’t a jazz concert; this was all about the singer and his rapport with the audience.
First published in The Herald, Monday July 21st