Belfast Telegraph

Chris Rea review: Guitar hero hasn't run out of fuel

By Andrew Johnston

Guitar stalwart Chris Rea's annual winter tour reached Belfast last night, and even if every shop in town seemed to be playing his seasonal single Driving Home for Christmas, the man himself didn't deign to perform it.

To be fair, he hasn't cranked out the track since 1991, and there were plenty more crowd-pleasers to be heard at the gruff-voiced singer's sold-out return to the Waterfront.

The likes of Josephine, Stainsby Girls and On the Beach delighted Rea's faithful fans, while Let's Dance had them doing just that. There was also some more recent material, with opening number The Last Open Road in particular suggesting 63-year-old Rea and his trusty Fender Stratocaster still have plenty to say.

The song from 2011's Santo Spirito Blues album boasts another lyric about travelling - a Rea staple - and the subject seems to suit his heads-down, no-nonsense style.

Any irks about him not wanting to croon about his yuletide travel plans were forgiven when he took a roof-raising turn onto The Road to Hell. Rea's 1989 signature song remains a sleek, well-oiled beast of a tune, with the axeman's licks giving off sparks as the brooding anthem reached full throttle.

He may have been on the road for more than 35 years, but last night, Rea proved he's not out of fuel yet.

Three stars

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