Bennett Wilson Poole, Betsey Trotwood, London, 22nd March 2018

Much has been written about “the power of three.” Apparently it’s something to do with the evolution of the brain and how much easier it is for humans to grasp the concept of ‘threes.’  This notion certainly endures in storytelling, whether it’s in The Three Musketeers, The Three Amigos, or The Three Stooges. Whilst there’s nothing slapstick about the Americana supergroup, Bennett Wilson Poole, there’s still plenty of between song humour and bonhomie with this trio,who are debuting their eponymous album over three nights (coincidence?) at the Betsey Trotwood. Indeed, there are times during the evening when the band appear to be having the time of their lives, riffing off each in humorous as well as musical ways. This magical collaboration have all made significant individual contributions to the UK Americana scene for a long time now – Danny Wilson in Grand Drive and the Champions of the World, Robin Bennett in the Dreaming Spires, Goldrush, and St. Etienne, while Tony Poole, producer supremo, used to play in the critically acclaimed but short-lived band, Starry Eyed & Laughing. Continue reading “Bennett Wilson Poole, Betsey Trotwood, London, 22nd March 2018”

Matt McGinn + Andy Lucas, Fallen Angels Club/Star Folk Club, The Admiral Bar, Glasgow, 20th March 2018

Ireland’s Matt McGinn is well aware that any appearance of his in Glasgow is bound to cause some confusion, the city being the birthplace of the late songwriter of the same name, famous for having appeared with Bob Dylan at Carnegie Hall in the sixties. Straight off, McGinn asked if anyone wanted a refund declaring that at least one punter had returned tickets once they realised that it wasn’t the legendary Calton songsmith, returned from the grave, who was appearing tonight. He needn’t have worried as the folk who were attending this long established folk club tonight were all well aware of the Irishman’s growing reputation, bolstered with the release of his third album, ‘The End Of The Common Man.’ Continue reading “Matt McGinn + Andy Lucas, Fallen Angels Club/Star Folk Club, The Admiral Bar, Glasgow, 20th March 2018”

Dale Watson, The 100 Club, London, 16th March 2018

Shortly after 8.30pm, a passing punter in the 100 Club said to another fellow gig goer, “I thought that was Billy Idol for a moment.” It’s actually a reference to the gravity defying pompadour sitting atop Dale Watson’s head. On conclusion of his set about two hours later the participants of this exchange might have concluded that any similarity between the two crooners began and ended at their hair – and also wonder whether Billy Idol was capable of delivering a performance of two hours’ duration, with a set list chosen largely by his audience. Continue reading “Dale Watson, The 100 Club, London, 16th March 2018”

The Handsome Family, Hackney Round Chapel, 15th March 2018

“For us to have Loose Records here tonight and for us to still be married…” is Rennie Sparks’s wry reflection towards the beginning of this evening’s performance in Hackney – a nice acknowledgement to the record label who have long supported them and a sly nod to the unlikelihood of a musical and personal marriage of such longevity. While such a lengthy partnership might seem improbable to her, it’s certainly propitious for us – the audience – who are able to able to enjoy a live rendition of their 1998 album, ‘Through The Trees’, in all its glory tonight. Continue reading “The Handsome Family, Hackney Round Chapel, 15th March 2018”

Lloyd Cole, De La Warr Pavillion, Bexhill on Sea, 4th March 2018

Lloyd Cole takes to the stage, looking more like a hip geography teacher than the brooding rock star of his youth, and launches straight into ‘Patience’, to the obvious approval of the capacity crowd at the De La Warr Pavillion. Once he’s finished his opening song he stops and takes a long, hard look at the crowd. After surveying the audience for a while he walks up to the microphone and delivers his first words of the evening; “Yeah….you’re not getting any younger either”. Continue reading “Lloyd Cole, De La Warr Pavillion, Bexhill on Sea, 4th March 2018”

Knight & Spiers, Junction 2, Cambridge, 6th March 2018

The last gig of the City Roots Festival was, fittingly enough, the folkiest gig of the festival. Sure, there had been the likes of Sam Kelley with his mixture of new and re-arranged traditional songs, but this combination of Peter Knight, previously with Steeleye Span, on fiddle and melodeon maestro John Spiers brought a poignant purity to their playing. Their two sets drew heavily on the duo’s new album, ‘Well Met’, which features instrumental versions of several songs as well as dance tunes – mostly hornpipes – old and new. Continue reading “Knight & Spiers, Junction 2, Cambridge, 6th March 2018”

Wildwood Kin, Cambridge Corn Exchange, Cambridge, 4th March 2018

Wildwood Kin were opening this City Roots Festival gig for Ward Thomas – who would go on to give their expected high gloss pop-country set with only one real surprise to it, that it ran for a shade less than an hour. Wildwood Kin however did their half an hour with as little fuss as possible – the three piece of sisters Emillie on guitar and Beth on bouzouki and keyboards with their cousin Meg between them on a stripped down drum kit suitable for playing standing up. Championed by Bob Harris, Wildwood Kin have toured and recorded with folk hero and fellow Devonian Seth Lakeman, as well as taking support slots with the likes of The Stereophonics. Continue reading “Wildwood Kin, Cambridge Corn Exchange, Cambridge, 4th March 2018”

Tom Robinson, Cambridge Corn Exchange, Cambridge, 1st March 2018

Tom Robinson’s headline mid-week concert was presented as part of the ongoing City Roots Festival, an offshoot of the Cambridge Folk Festival which is presented at several venues across the city in late February and early March. It’s only in the second year of running but has again had an excellent set of gigs lined up. Tonight is, of course, a homecoming gig for local boy Robinson, although judging from the audience there aren’t too many of his youthful contemporaries knocking about. It also marks twenty five years since he played the Cambridge Folk Festival – so a lot of potential points of resonance at the Corn Exchange. Continue reading “Tom Robinson, Cambridge Corn Exchange, Cambridge, 1st March 2018”

The Hanging Stars, the Victoria, Dalston, London, 22nd February 2018

The Hanging Stars brought the sound of summer to the Victoria pub in Dalston on an otherwise cold and dismal February night last Thursday. Launching their sophomore release, ‘Songs for Somewhere Else’, The Hanging Stars were appropriately accompanied by a mindbending liquid light show from Innerstrings which acted as a perfect counterpoint to their music – described by the band as ‘cosmic psychedelic country folk soul.’ Continue reading “The Hanging Stars, the Victoria, Dalston, London, 22nd February 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”