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

Roxanne de Bastion, 2017Support for this show is from ‘Fawn UK’, 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”

Ian Hunter & The Rant Band, The Stables, Wavendon, 21st June 2017

More than thirty years after departing from Mott the Hoople, Ian Hunter is still forever associated with the band which gave him his big break. That must be something of a poisoned chalice as he’s produced a significant body of solo work over those years and his current musical unit – the Rant Band – are responsible for two of his finest albums When I’m President and last year’s Fingers Crossed both of which show him to be a songwriter very much at the top of his game. And as befits this status he works as many of the new songs into his set as possible…or perhaps that should be he works as few Mott songs into the set as he feels he can get away with. Continue reading “Ian Hunter & The Rant Band, The Stables, Wavendon, 21st June 2017”

Joe Purdy, support Lydia Ramsey, The Horn, St Albans, 15th June 2017

Does it get better than this – a beautifully warm evening, driving off to see Joe Purdy for the second time in a week, Bob Harris Country on the radio and Bob’s interviewing Jason Isbell. Oh and he closes the show with Waylon’s Luckenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics Of Love). Everything’s looking – and sounding – very promising. Things take a downward trend when arriving at The Horn to find there’s no crowd – and I mean, no crowd: the venue’s deserted. Even when the stage times roll around things haven’t improved all that much – can St. Albans and the surrounding area really only scrape together thirty odd people for Joe Purdy? Continue reading “Joe Purdy, support Lydia Ramsey, The Horn, St Albans, 15th June 2017”

Erin Rae And The Meanwhiles, Green Note, London, 20th July 2017

Raised in Jackson Tennessee Erin Rae has recently been Nashville’s popular choice for backing vocals and harmony work working with the likes of Margo Price and Andrew Combs. Her debut album Soon Enough saw her take the decision to step out from behind other artists and take centre stage and tonight she was  at the Green Note to promote her forthcoming album Putting On Airs while playing some songs from her acclaimed debut.  Rae has been described as Nashville’s best-kept secret but based on what I saw and heard tonight, she will not remain a secret for long. Continue reading “Erin Rae And The Meanwhiles, Green Note, London, 20th July 2017”