Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel making me smile

Steve Harley and The Cockney Rebel are currently on tour.
Steve Harley and The Cockney Rebel are currently on tour.

The singer-songwriter whose pension plan self-penned iconic anthem numbers among most oft ever covered classics came up to see us and – granted you guessed it already – made us smile.

The time-served troubadour last week locally came to town, fittingly showcasing in his back catalogue canon “new” material from 2010 latest offering Stranger Comes To Town.

Steve Harley included tracks from all 12 studio albums spanning four decades in a set that ran for a tremendous two hours-plus.

The man who, in the mid-80s returned to gigging after serious illness, didn’t call alone to deliver a greatest hits package with equal helpings of passion and pizzazz.

Joining him at Harrogate Royal Hall on Wednesday were Cockney Rebel’s original line-up, still a formidable force fresh from Euro festivals success.

Guitarist Robbie Gladwell, bassist Lincoln Anderson, James Lascelles on keyboards and drummer Adam Houghton produced as tight a mix as in “Best Years Of Our Lives” TOTP territory yesteryear.

But is was long-serving violinist Barry Wickens whose soaring, swooping strings created an impressively intrinsic sound to steal the shows alongside the combo’s charismatic frontman.

All the fans’ favourites were welcomed like familiar friends, most markedly chart hits Judy Teen, Tumbling Down, Sebastian, Mr Soft, Mr Raffles and Fab Four cover Here Comes The Sun.

The inevitable obligatory encore thankfully finally saw an appreciate audience get to its collective feet for Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me). The ‘75 standard, on which equally glam-tastic Marc Bolan played acoustic guitar and sang backing vocals, has been covered a royalty-boosting 120 times.

It also featured in The Full Monty’s Oscar-winning soundtrack. But, during these two stand-out shows, the real winner remained the original version from the former scribe who continues to headline crackingly crafted concerts.

CP Diddy.