Chastity Brown, Borderline, London, 13th June 2017

Chastity Brown apologises for the four year hiatus in her albums. “But I’m from Tennessee” she remarks. It could be that the record company need that explanation but it pretty much looks like every man and woman in here tonight is simply happy to see Chastity Brown back with new material no matter how long the break. Androgynous and self- assured, she grew up near Memphis but her adopted home for the last twelve years has been Minneapolis and the material on offer tonight from new album Silhouette of Sirens befits her biker boots, black waxed skinny jeans and jacket as there is a more obvious rock edge. Continue reading “Chastity Brown, Borderline, London, 13th June 2017”

Chris Shiflett, 100 Club, Oxford Street, London, 13th June 2017

In these reviews I often find myself harking back to a period in London’s long lost rock history: the pub rock and early punk days of 75/76 that, in particular, the west of the city became associated with. Tonight’s gig is in the legendary 100 Club slap bang in heart of town. It’s a busy affair. The man I’m here to see is supporting Jet’s Nic Cester and veteran indie /punk broadcaster is Gary Crowley is DJing. It’s a superb gig, full of the right amount of joviality, rawness and musicianship, but as the sun rises the next morning, I’m thinking of west London again and the tower blocks that flank the Westway, the landscapes so evocative of early Clash artwork. Continue reading “Chris Shiflett, 100 Club, Oxford Street, London, 13th June 2017”

The Blinding Lights, The Battersea Barge, Vauxhall London 5th May 2017

There is a legend among Thames boatmen of a ghost ship, a vessel shrouded in darkness plying the grey river in the night. On board a band plays, guests revel and the music drifts out across the river. The Blinding Lights are not that band but I could understand what they were trying to create here. Continue reading “The Blinding Lights, The Battersea Barge, Vauxhall London 5th May 2017”

BC Camplight, St Pancras Old Church, London. 20th April 2017

The church has a profound effect on some people. For BC Camplight it drove him to greet his audience with a handshake at the south porch as they left. Earlier I wasn’t too sure Camplight was an artist just right for Americana UK but soon my fears were relieved when I spotted a writer from a rival website tapping away on his Samsung in the opposite corner. And then Camplight played Your Cheating Heart, a foot stomping version on the church piano that he used throughout the set. Continue reading “BC Camplight, St Pancras Old Church, London. 20th April 2017”

Courtney Marie Andrews, In-Store Performance, Rough Trade West, London. 12th April 2017

A true unplugged set this evening. Wearing a short olive dress and perched confidently on the record shop front desk, Courtney Marie Andrews was charming the 25 strong audience with cuts from the new LP. Without the piano and pedal steel of the album, the songs shift from the smooth neo-country textures and take on a surprising indie feel, perhaps explaining the Zane Lowe endorsement. Continue reading “Courtney Marie Andrews, In-Store Performance, Rough Trade West, London. 12th April 2017”

Holly MacVe + Will Stratton, St John on Bethnal Green, London E2 – 6th April 2017

Holly MacVe is 21. She grew up in Ireland, Yorkshire and Brighton yet she creates lonesome country songs hewn from the bedrock of Hank, Emmylou, Joni, Tammy and KD along with that of Lana Del Rey. A few of the dates on her current tour are in churches, this one being a fine Sir John Soane Italianate example built in 1820 and still a place of worship. Americana music is rooted in the church, in gospel and blues and the country folk of the god-fearing Appalachians so musically everything is perfect here. Support act Will Stratton changed the lyric in one of his songs for the occasion. “When I wrote this I was a hard line atheist, but I’m not so sure now “, he says, and he leaves the song hanging, questioning. His voice evokes the soft longing of classic American folk and there are glimpses of Paul Simon, Nick Drake and James Taylor too.  Continue reading “Holly MacVe + Will Stratton, St John on Bethnal Green, London E2 – 6th April 2017”

Colin Hay, Union Chapel, Islington, London 4th April 2017

When a panel voted recently on the best Australian songs of the modern era, three of the top ten were penned by Scots. The Easybeats’ “Friday On My Mind” topped the list, co-written by George Young whose brothers Angus and Malcolm were behind the number nine, AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to Rock”. Neither of these are overtly Aussie, which cannot be said of the song that came fourth, written by the man working the audience in
Upper St. tonight. Colin Hay, the solo troubadour behind the mike and behind the song in question (more of that later) was Men at Work’s founder and frontman who moved from Saltcoats in Scotland to Australia in his teens. However he has lived in California since the demise of the band, almost 35 years ago, making him more than qualified to deliver a new album “Fierce Mercy” where the influences of his adopted homeland come to the fore. He chats about inspiration – he cites Gene Pitney, the Walker Brothers and Roy Orbison but in addition to those, echoes of The Beach Boys, Jackson Browne and Bob Seger are all evident in this latest piece. Continue reading “Colin Hay, Union Chapel, Islington, London 4th April 2017”