JOHN Hiatt might not be a household name in the UK, but amongst a certain group of music aficionados of a certain age he is seen as one of the most influential and respected singer songwriters in the business.
Although his name might not be familiar, his songs will be. If you don’t recognise them from one of his 20 solo albums, you will probably have heard them on the soundtrack to many films and TV shows. And even if that doesn’t help it would be difficult to have avoided all the cover versions, with illustrious artists such as Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and even Paula Abdul queuing up to re-record his work.
Tonight Hiatt treats us to a selection of songs from across his varied career, from the height of his popularity in the late 80s to tracks taken from his most recent album Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns.
Opening song Master of Disaster set the tone for the evening, a bluesy guitar-led piece of Heartland Rock that was at times reminiscent of Dire Straits. Some more energetic tracks such as Tennessee Plates kept things moving along nicely, and were all well received by the appreciative audience.
This was followed by a short foray into some more Country-infused territory, with the intricate heartfelt Crossing Muddy Waters as the stand-out track.
Through the rest of the evening all the crowd favourites were delivered, including Good Guitar, Slow Turning and Thing Called Love, building to an impressive rock ’n’ roll finale with Memphis in the Meantime. Hiatt’s most famous track Have a Little Faith in Me was reserved for the encore and the evening was brought to a close with a muscular version of Riding with the King which gave his excellent band a chance to cut loose.
Hiatt’s voice has always been distinctively gruff, perhaps increasingly so with age, but in many ways this suits the bluesy style of his music. He is clearly a man at ease with his place in the music world, a versatile, talented performer who is content to step back and let the quality of his songs take centre stage.