APPEARING at The Ritz for the first time (“But I’ll bet someone tells me after that I played here in ’74.” He quipped), Steve Harley and the latest incarnation of Cockney Rebel put on a phenomenal show for a moderate sized crowd of fans.

Steve always prefers to let his music do the talking and it was over half an hour into the set that he first spoke – by which time he’d played nine songs.

When he did speak, he told us about his forthcoming appearance on ‘Celebrity Mastermind’, his father’s hip and his plans for a massive concert next year.

But we were there for the music, and what a feast he served up.

Within those first nine songs were three of his biggest hits: ‘Judy Teen’, ‘Love’s a Prima Donna’ and ‘Mr Soft’.

We also had ‘The Coast Of Amalfi’ and ‘Hideaway’ which kind of bookends his career so far.

Alongside Steve were seven musicians, most of whom have been with him for years: including Robbie Gladwell, Barry Wickens and James Lascelles.

In fact Gladwell’s guitar solo in ‘Make Me Smile’ and Wickens’ Violin solo in ‘The Lighthouse’ were amongst the highlights of the show.

Steve himself was in fine form; singing in hid trademark, Dylan-esque tones and giving us all an overview of his career to date.

The classic songs continued with the likes of ‘Muriel The Actor’, ‘Stranger Comes To Town’, ‘Riding The Waves’ and the sublime ‘Friend For Life’ all being appreciated by the audience.

It was a pretty laid back performance, although you could tell that Steve was feeling every word he sang, and the music was top-notch.

‘Too Much Tenderness’ and ‘Journey’s End’ underlined this unique artist’s musical quality that has set him apart from almost every other British songwriter and performer for the last forty years.

The final four songs topped everything that had gone before with the massed choir of Harley-fans giving full voice to ‘Sebastian’ and ‘Tumbling Down’ before Steve upped the pace a bit for ‘Saturday Night at the Fair’.

Naturally he saved the best till last and ‘Make Me Smile’ ensured that the crowd went into the night happy. (No place in the set for ‘Mr Raffles’ though).

Steve and the band were on stage for two and a quarter hours with no interval, and I can’t think of any other act that have done that in recent years.

The Hobo with a grin took his leave of the stage to an ovation that is unique to the band of followers that he has.

A superb performance from a true troubadour.