Tyler Ramsey + Alexander Carson, Bush Hall, London, 30th October 2019

Slightly bedraggled in appearance, holes and scuffs in the plaid shirt, Tyler Ramsey takes to the stage with minimal fuss. Seats himself, taking a while to tune his acoustic before intricately picking harmonics for the instrumental ‘Train‘. A suitably Halloween timed ‘1000 Black Birds‘ follows with vocals before guitarist Brian Landrum joins on pedal steel, teasing it with an e-bow to create a whirring wall on ‘Cheap Summer Dress‘. “The weight of old regret hangs heaviest on my frame” sings Ramsey. He appears in not regretful sprits tonight, this being far from his first venture as a solo artist, but his first fully dedicated new album tour since departing as guitarist from Band Of Horses in 2017. Continue reading “Tyler Ramsey + Alexander Carson, Bush Hall, London, 30th October 2019”

Robert Vincent + The Curse Of Lono + Foreign Affairs, Under The Apple Tree Sessions, Bush Hall, London, 26th October 2019

The hosts for this particular night of what was Country Music Week at Bush Hall were none other than Bob Harris’s Under The Apple Tree, the digital platform for Harris, his son Miles and various family members. No surprise then that Harris elected to showcase two acts he has selected for his AMAUK Emerging Artist award over the past years, namely, Robert Vincent and Curse Of Lono. Endless gratitude should always head Whispering Bob’s way, who even after another recent brush of health issues shows no sign of easing his ever-enthusiastic musical passions. Keep well Bob. Continue reading “Robert Vincent + The Curse Of Lono + Foreign Affairs, Under The Apple Tree Sessions, Bush Hall, London, 26th October 2019”

Ryan Bingham + Joana Serrat, The Garage, Islington, 21st June 2019

Having previously stirred the European waters with a handful of intimate spring acoustic appearances, tonight’s Ryan Bingham show was to be the full powered, full band, showcase of his new ‘American Love Song’ LP. Backed by a mighty fine rhythm section, two wonderful singers and an excellent wing man guitarist, Bingham was in great form and the band were in full force right from the off with a straight out rockin’ ‘Nothing Holds Me Down’. This was followed by the roadhouse blues and country shuffle of ‘Jingle & Go’. “His boots may be crocodile,” he declares in his Texan gruff, but“this ain’t some of yer f’kin tractor kinda shit.” Continue reading “Ryan Bingham + Joana Serrat, The Garage, Islington, 21st June 2019”

The Lemonheads, Engine Rooms, Southampton, 17th February 2019

Promptly onstage mere seconds prior to 9pm  and offstage by 10 and playing a career spanning setlist of 25 plus songs in between, Evan Dando set quite a pace tonight. Pace and haste, perhaps not two words one would normally associate with the Lemonhead chief. After all, the new album ‘Varshons 2’ follows on from 2009’s initial ‘Varshons’ album so it seems that Dando is not in a rush to shake off the 1990’s slacker rock tag. Yet, donned in a fine white blazer matching his SG guitar, Dando and the current Lemonheads four-piece line up were straight out of the blocks with quick fire songs from the early catalogue including ‘Hospital‘, ‘Down About It’, ‘The Turnpike Down’ and ‘Its A Shame About Ray’. Continue reading “The Lemonheads, Engine Rooms, Southampton, 17th February 2019”

The Magpie Salute + Maker, Portsmouth Pyramids Centre, 10th De­­­­­­­cember 2018

Comprising of three fifths former Black Crowes’ members and two parts formerly of the Rich Robinson band, it comes as no surprise that The Magpie Salute cut the proverbial mustard with their individual musical chops and on stage at ease confidence. Formed in 2016 after the seemingly non-amicable ship jumping of lead singer Chris Robinson, they could easily (although perhaps not legally) have been named The Black Crowes part two. But with a new name and perhaps a new ethos came The Magpie Salute. Tonight’s opening song, ‘High Water,’ taken from this year’s LP of the same name, intertwines intricate guitar lines on to a roaring chorus  as John Hogg shouts out,‘‘The shadow is woken/the challenge is open”.  A band mission statement quite possibly. A strutting ‘Mary The Gypsy’ follows with guitarists Rich Robinson & Mark Ford adding to the vocal duties. The same pairing meanwhile lean things a little more towards the Allman Brothers with duelling solos on the slow starting and heavy riff ending ‘For The Wind’. Continue reading “The Magpie Salute + Maker, Portsmouth Pyramids Centre, 10th De­­­­­­­cember 2018”

Darlingside + Wildwood Kin, Shepherds Bush Empire, 1st November 2018

Only the occasional faint clanging of the bar can be overheard whilst Darlingside play. The audience are fittingly pin drop silent to embrace all the intricacies the band offer. Huddled up shoulder tight to harmonize around a single vintage condenser microphone, the result is quite magnificent. Over the course of the evening, banjos, fiddles and upright bass are swapped by this multi instrumentalist Boston four piece and whilst that all may sound – so far – so bluegrass – this they are not. As evidence there’s the second song of the night, ‘Eschalton’, aided by loops and notes via a small keyboard sequencer plus some Peter Hook like Rickenbacker bass riffs. There’s more than a sprinkling in the set of their 2018 LP ‘Extralife’. A perhaps more brooding affair than previous releases which they explain as some of the album being written whilst on recent UK visits as they were looking back toward their homeland. “It’s over now, the flag is sunk, the world has flattened out” they sing on ‘Extralife’. Then there’s “Tomorrow’s beginning to take, an equal and opposite shape” from ‘Orion,’ performed whilst a simple spinning mirror ball works a perfect sky gazing ambience. For the stillness of ‘Hold Your Head Up High’ even the dry ice appears to hang onstage without movement. Continue reading “Darlingside + Wildwood Kin, Shepherds Bush Empire, 1st November 2018”

Scott Matthews + Ady Johnson, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth, 4th October 2018.

Whilst heckling of a complimentary nature is probably welcomed by most performers, when the name John Martyn popped up during Scott Matthews’ set there was a mildly perturbing shout of, “You’re better than he is….cos he’s dead!” from the crowd. Welcome back to Portsmouth Mr Matthews, welcome back. With that tumbleweed of a comment however he strummed into the twisting croon of ‘So Long My Moonlight’ and more than a little John Martyn influence revealed itself (understandably given that former Martyn cohort Danny Thompson appears on the 2011 recording). Continue reading “Scott Matthews + Ady Johnson, Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth, 4th October 2018.”

John Moreland + John Calvin Abney, Jazz Cafe London, 31st July 2018

Weighty is a good word for John Moreland and that’s no sly childish quip on a guy carrying more than quite a few pounds. Such is his vocal delivery, gritty song writing and overall demeanour that everything on tonight’s Jazz Cafe stage came with a sorrowful and hefty gravitas. Perhaps the only piece of comedy of the night was the board outside advertising him as ‘Blues Guitarist John Moreland’. Well, he does play guitar and he certainly has the inner blues, so then again. Continue reading “John Moreland + John Calvin Abney, Jazz Cafe London, 31st July 2018”

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Omeara, London, 15th February 2018

Largely due to the success of the crowd rousing (and Father Jack like) ‘S.O.B.’ their “gimme a drink” song, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats self titled debut LP sold over a million copies. They were catapulted from Colorado bars to this year’s upcoming Stateside tour of arenas and amphitheatres – The Greek, Red Rocks et al – and more locally soon, three nigh on sell out shows at Shepherds Bush Empire. Continue reading “Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Omeara, London, 15th February 2018”

Ryan Adams + Karen Elson, 02 Academy, Bournemouth, 19th September 2017

In a rare moment of chat towards the end of this show, Ryan Adams took a swipe at a previous live review where he was accused of being self-indulgent. “Man” he proclaims, “That’s like eating a dessert and then complaining that it’s sweet.” He does have a point. Although perhaps Ryan Adams’ stage presence is often closer to shoegaze indie than fist punching stadium, tonight he plays for over two hours straight through and picks from a set list that spans his entire songbook. What more he could or should do, he’d be excused for thinking. Continue reading “Ryan Adams + Karen Elson, 02 Academy, Bournemouth, 19th September 2017”