Shakin’ Stevens + Danni Nicholls, York Barbican, York, 19th May, 2017

It’s a big room for the ‘bard from Bedford’, resplendent in a suitably showbiz spangling top. Danni Nichol is comfortable in a room that houses both the UK snooker championships and Amy MacDonald in a few weeks.  Bluesy, Gospelly, there is a wonderful grace to her voice and her tales of Nashville, along with Beautifully Broken from Mockingbird Lane, and some spontaneous sing-a-longs proves her to be the perfect warm-up and it can’t be long before she plays places like this in her own right. Continue reading “Shakin’ Stevens + Danni Nicholls, York Barbican, York, 19th May, 2017”

Red Rooster Festival, Euston Hall, Suffolk, 1-3 June 2017

Suffolk is such a green place when you live in treeless Yorkshire, every time I stray there I feel the inner workings of my soul refreshed.  Normally I wander that way once a year for Maverick, but this year it’s two journeys in a month, for the three day Red Rooster Festival is on the cards.  The first thing I notice is the amount of camper vans and caravans vs tents, a 50:50 split suggests this is an older, more affluent crowd. Continue reading “Red Rooster Festival, Euston Hall, Suffolk, 1-3 June 2017”

Annie Keating + Christina Martin, York Basement, York, 25th June 2017

The debut York performance of Canada’s Christina Martin, tonight with Producer/Husband Dale Murray on guitar, has been a long time coming, but it’s worth the wait.  Tonight she’s the support, later in the tour with her UK band the roles are reversed. It’s a hell of a support.  She plays a mix of stuff from a forthcoming “fall” album, her critically acclaimed ‘It’ll Be Alright’ and older stuff – what my boy calls her “brown hair period”.  The Basement’s subterranean feeling is a great spot for an intimate gig like this, punters and performers shunted together and Martin feeds on this. Continue reading “Annie Keating + Christina Martin, York Basement, York, 25th June 2017”

Roxanne de Bastion, York City Screen Basement Bar, York, 4th May 2017

Roxanne de Bastion, 2017Support for this show is from ‘Thorn’, part, it would appear, of York’s hip crowd. Her teenage vigour makes me feel old; reading lyrics from an iphone for a new song rather than a fag packet makes me realise I am.  Her voice seems to come from somewhere else, like it floated in through an open window.  Her ear for a good lyric is great too, “You made me a sandwich, you know I won’t eat”, hints at life experience beyond her years – going to watch her career with interest. Continue reading “Roxanne de Bastion, York City Screen Basement Bar, York, 4th May 2017”

Mercury Rev, The Barbican, London, 14th July 2017

Mecury Rev have a sound that is often described as symphonic, so this appearance at The Barbican with the Royal Northern Sinfonia offers a real chance to hear the huge sounds of their albums as they were meant to be. Surprisingly there’ll be nothing from Secret Migration, perhaps the bands most symphonic album to date. Mercury Rev’s last album – 2015’s The Light In You – appeared after a seven year break and was their first for Bella Union,and this very special appearance at The Barbican also forms part of the Bella Union 20th Birthday party. Although ever hopeful, this reviewer recalls that the Bella Union 10th Birthday celebrations didn’t feature cake. Continue reading “Mercury Rev, The Barbican, London, 14th July 2017”

The Whybirds, The Portland Arms, Cambridge, 7th July 2017

Well – after three studio albums, a live album, EPs, singles and many gigs – that’s it for the Whybirds. Having an announced an indefinite hiatus the Americana band are currently undertaking their last few live gigs – in fact there’s just the Lexington in London on August 11th still to go. There was never any expectation that The Whybirds would bow out quietly, and sure enough they were playing at outdoor festival level in this small pub music venue. Continue reading “The Whybirds, The Portland Arms, Cambridge, 7th July 2017”

Darlingside, Union Chapel, London, 3rd July 2017

Darlingside are an American folk band starting to make quite a stir after a bumped higher up the bill appearance at last year’s Cambridge Folk Festival earnt them a lot of new fans this side of the pond. They’ve been back for some tour dates and brought along a friend – the woman described as their “Big Sister” – who provided the opening support set. Caitlin Canty is a Vermont girl gone Nashville, and sings modern folk songs tinged with a fairly generous helping of country. She’s enjoying being in the UK – commenting that if she lived here she’d be writing train songs instead of ones featuring cars as an escape. Get Up is her standout song, with its thrumming guitar line and insistent lyrics “Get up get up get up / no time to rest or run for cover / Get up get up get up / before the road pulls you under” which restlessly hints at a chaotic scramble away from an unbearable situation. Continue reading “Darlingside, Union Chapel, London, 3rd July 2017”