Uncle Lucius: Fat Lils, Witney. 1st November 2016

Fat Lil’s is a small club in Witney. Here were a hundred or so people prepared to sit, listen and applaud appropriately, knowingly and loudly. The supporting band Curse of Lono got the gig off to a perfect start. Here were an up and coming London band who had accompanied Uncle Lucius on a short tour of Europe beforehand and, according to them, had learned a great deal from the experience. Watch out for their EP and make all attempts to see them. I certainly will.

Anyway, Uncle Lucius are named, apparently after an old friend of the band, an eccentric old man named Lucius from down in the Louisiana swamps. The band members, all outstanding as part of a team, are Kevin Galloway, powerful vocalist, (though they all sing); Michael Carpenter, important role as lead guitar; Josh Greco on drums; Jon Brossman, keys, and Nigel Frye on bass. They are all involved in the song writing process and singing and their music making is co-ordinated and very effective. Relaxing before the gig, next door in the small restaurant, there was already something impressive about them. Continue reading “Uncle Lucius: Fat Lils, Witney. 1st November 2016”

John Paul White: Bush Hall, London – 8th November 2016

John Paul White, along with Joy Williams, was The Civil Wars – the all-conquering duo who filled the void when Plant and Krauss stopped gigging their Raising Sand album. The Civil Wars lasted for a similar timespan, coming to a crashing halt after a gig at the Roundhouse in 2012. No longer talking to each other, all future gigs were cancelled and a band hiatus called. During this a hugely successful second album managed to be released, but White declined to help promote it and soon after their parting of the musical ways was announced with the cryptic comment that it was due to “differences of ambition”. In subsequent interviews neither party has really clarified what that meant, and the general consensus that they’d had an affair that had ended badly remains neither confirmed or denied. John Paul White set up a studio and record label and seemed happy to promote the likes of Dylan LeBlanc – at least until now. Continue reading “John Paul White: Bush Hall, London – 8th November 2016”

The Lumineers: Hammersmith Apollo, London – 4th November 2016

The Lumineers burst onto the scene with a huge breakthrough hit Ho, Hey, and quickly found themselves pigeonholed alongside the likes of Mumford & Sons. Whereas that band had shot religious imagery right through their lyrics and clung to a “every song builds to a crescendo” formula, The Lumineers were more interested in girls and relationships and a stripped down musical vibe. All that was four years ago, now in 2016 for their second album, Cleopatra, they’ve teamed up with Simone Felice as producer and steered in a direction that’s slightly darker whilst retaining a distinct upbeat undercurrent. And it clearly has wide-appeal, this sold out appearance was the first of two nights at the legendary Hammersmith Apollo. Continue reading “The Lumineers: Hammersmith Apollo, London – 4th November 2016”

Chip Taylor: Glasgow Americana Festival The Classic Grand – 7th October 2016

You know you’re in the presence of greatness when the artist onstage is recounting his recent meetings with Tom Petty and Elvis Costello and you just know that they were in awe of the artist as opposed to the other way around. But then not everyone is Chip Taylor, a man whose story is so entwined with the history of rock music that they’re virtually inseparable. Of course he’s the man who famously penned Wild Thing and Angel Of The Morning, really just the tips of his musical iceberg. Able to draw together county, pop, rock and rythym’n’blues he penned hits for a host of names in the sixties before releasing his own prototype of outlaw country on several seventies albums. In the eighties he turned his hand to professional gambling and apparently excelled at this, reputedly banned from every casino in Atlantic City as they couldn’t keep up with his winnings. The late nineties saw him return to music with his own solo albums abetted by several acclaimed collaborations with Texan violinist Carrie Rodriguez. On his albums Taylor comes across as a sage, the songs ruminations on life and in particular, the absurdities and injustices that life throws up enveloped by his dry wit, comforting voice and occasional scabrous lyric. Continue reading “Chip Taylor: Glasgow Americana Festival The Classic Grand – 7th October 2016”

Blue Rose Code: St. Andrews In The Square Glasgow Americana Festival – 5th October 2016

“I’m going to start with my most miserable song.” Thus opened the 10th Glasgow Americana Festival, the words spoken by Ross Wilson of Blue Rose Code as he opened his set with a solo rendition of the achingly beautiful “Pokesdown Waltz”. Well, Americana (and Country) fans do love their misery so no complaints there then especially when it’s a curtain raiser for Wilson’s latest sold out show in Mother Glasgow, the dear green place having clasped this Leith born troubadour to its bosom.  And while there’s a pedal steel on stage this is no country song jamboree, no tears in your beers, more reflections in a rain swept loch. Wilson and his current line up deliver his increasingly Celtic ruminations with wild flurries of notes which capture the grandeur of the Highlands along with the more introspective moments one has come to expect from a writer who has used his songs as a confessional on more than one occasion. Continue reading “Blue Rose Code: St. Andrews In The Square Glasgow Americana Festival – 5th October 2016”

Jimmy Webb: The Stables, Wavendon – 21st September 2016

Jimmy Webb is, without a doubt, a songwriter of some high ability – even if he’s not best known for what are his most interesting compositions. His reputation in the UK has been burnished in recent years by appearances on “Later…” and “Songwriters Circle” where he has been able to mix songs with some autobiography – a bit like the programme for this evening of Jimmy Webb & Glen Campbell. Continue reading “Jimmy Webb: The Stables, Wavendon – 21st September 2016”

Mogwai: The Barbican, London – 15th September 2016

There is a dichotomy that is going to run through this review – is it a review of a live gig or is it a review of a documentary film? Mogwai’s last album was the soundtrack for the film “Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise” and this concert neatly solved the problem of how to play music so closely tied to a visual presentation by playing it as an accompaniment to the film. It’s a neat, and near ideal, solution – as the film gains a lot of emotional punch by having the score presented live and at full Mogwai volume, but it does leave the band in the strange position of playing second fiddle to the strong images being projected whilst they themselves are lost in the stygian gloom of the barely lit stage. Continue reading “Mogwai: The Barbican, London – 15th September 2016”