Callaghan, Bush Hall, London, 26th April 2018

Bush Hall is one of those milestone venues for many artists when they are building their careers as it is just the right size to test whether an act can headline their own London show. With a capacity of around 240  the Hall feels fine with anything over 100. Continue reading “Callaghan, Bush Hall, London, 26th April 2018”

Lilly Hiatt, Nell’s Jazz and Blues, West Kensington London, 25th April 2018

It would be an understatement to describe Lilly Hiatt’s introduction to London as understated. But when you are courageous enough to hang yourself out to dry, literally and metaphorically, in full view of the audience, you don’t need bells and whistles, or even a full band. Instead Hiatt sings ‘Championship Fighter,’ from her 2012 debut ‘Let Down,’ as a cowboy lament, accompanied only by her own guitar. “If it weren’t for the music, I probably wouldn’t be here now” Hiatt has said, and her songs, infused though they are, with existential musings on life, death and authenticity, are very much for the living. None more so than ‘All Kinds of People,’ a rocking opening to outstanding new album ‘Trinity Road,’ for which she is joined onstage by guitarist John Condit and Robert Hudson on bass and electric mandolin. Continue reading “Lilly Hiatt, Nell’s Jazz and Blues, West Kensington London, 25th April 2018”

Courtney Marie Andrews, Islington Assembly Hall, 24th April 2018

The last time Courtney Marie Andrews played London was September last year when she was riding high after her appearance on Later with Jools Holland, selling out two nights at Bush Hall.  I attended and reviewed these gigs here  and thought it would be interesting to see how far she has come since last year  when she told the audience she was recording a new album playing several songs that would eventually surface on ‘May Your Kindness Remain.’ The album came out in March this year and tonight’s show featured many songs from this latest release. Continue reading “Courtney Marie Andrews, Islington Assembly Hall, 24th April 2018”

The Lowest Pair, The Green Note, Camden London, 22nd April 2018

With the feel of a 1960’s coffee shop music parlour, the Green Note in Camden is surely one of the shining jewels in London’s musical crown. Priding itself on the intimacy between artiste and audience and for providing a rare outlet for less mainstream acoustic musical styles it was an appropriate final stop for The Lowest Pair on their Spring tour of the UK. The duo comprises of Kendl Winter and Palmer T. Lee, both playing guitar and banjo and trading vocals; hers an achingly beautiful distinctive tone that complements his smoky delivery to perfection. Continue reading “The Lowest Pair, The Green Note, Camden London, 22nd April 2018”

David Celia and Marla, The Bell Inn, Bath, 17th April 2018

Toronto’s David Celia has seen it all touring extensively across Europe and North America in promotion of his latest album ‘Double Mind‘, so he’s picked up a trick or two along the way. Tonight’s turnout on a cold Tuesday night was below-par by The Bell’s standards but the Canadian singer/songwriter made the best of it early on, acknowledging the fact with a wry joke and pressing gamely ahead. He was joined by Marla, a fellow singer/songwriter from Germany and together they threw up images of a young Gram and Emmylou stepping out for the first time full of hope and fresh original songs of change. The venue lent itself to the atmosphere; The Bell is an intimate and dedicated shrine to the glory years of transatlantic musical heroes. Continue reading “David Celia and Marla, The Bell Inn, Bath, 17th April 2018”

Littlemen, The Bell Inn, Bath, 11th April 2018

"llittlemen-live-2018-1"Strange bedfellows are made in the western outpost of Bath, Somerset. It’s a small community, neatly split into three piles. The tourists, who come for the Georgian tea rooms and Roman spas, the students (Bath has two universities and several colleges) and the locals with their stout hearts and strong heads for scrumpy cider. Forget about the tourists, they don’t venture into Walcot – the ‘Artisan Quarter’ – after dark, but a characteristic feature of Bath’s premier good time bar and live music venue The Bell is the coming together of local middle-age rock ‘n’roll dinosaurs like this reviewer with the students, who hunt in packs out by the picnic tables. They are separate but united in their love of good music, which The Bell has developed a reputation for providing from far and wide down the years. Continue reading “Littlemen, The Bell Inn, Bath, 11th April 2018”

Alela Diane + Olivia Chaney, Union Chapel, Islington, London, 12 April 2018

Alela Diane’s set on her UK tour’s opening night draws largely from her latest piano-based album ‘Cusp’ along with songs from her 2009 gem, ‘To Be Still’.  The Union Chapel, a functioning church in the heart of Islington, is a perfect setting for the quality of her work performed tonight in a trio format with Diane accompanied by gifted and polished multi instrumentation from Mirabei Peart and Heather Woods Broderick. They cover piano, flute and oboe, percussion and particularly violin and upright bass. They also provide wonderfully haunting echoic background vocals to counterpoise Diane’s dazzling singing. Continue reading “Alela Diane + Olivia Chaney, Union Chapel, Islington, London, 12 April 2018”

The Sheepdogs, The Lexington, London, 11th April 2018

A place of which it was once said: “Saskatoon’s got nothing but hookers and hockey players,” the northern Canadian outpost of only around 300,000 denizens is now  shaking off any past negative association with a seemingly unstoppable array of creative musical talent emerging from the city recently,  whether that be The Deep Dark Woods, Colter Wall, One Band Son, Kacy and Clayton, or tonight’s headline act, The Sheepdogs. Continue reading “The Sheepdogs, The Lexington, London, 11th April 2018”

Tom Paxton and The Don Juans, The Stables, Wavendon 15th April 2018

Tom Paxton turned eighty last October, and he has toured the UK for more than fifty of those years. This latest tour see’s him supported by The DonJuans (Don Henry and Jon Vezner) who both warm up the show with a few songs of their own and then play along with Tom throughout two excellent sets, adding a musical depth to the evening with additional guitars and uke’s as well as keyboards and harmonised vocals. They may be dressed like a pair of Steampunk Live Role Players, but The DonJuans’ four song opening set rarely strayed from the wistful and melodic, very much with a Seventies folk-country feel to them – not unlike a quieter Seals & Crofts. Continue reading “Tom Paxton and The Don Juans, The Stables, Wavendon 15th April 2018”

Oka Vanga, Green Note, London, 26th March 2018

The Green Note in Camden Town is always a pleasure to step inside. It’s one of those venues where the acts are chosen on the grounds of their pedigree and the atmosphere is always friendly. Tonight was no exception and while the audience settled in with bottled porter and locally made carrot cake, up stepped Oka Vanga to the stage. They were returning to familiar territory in a venue which helped launch their career and to where they find themselves drawn back like moths to the flame. Continue reading “Oka Vanga, Green Note, London, 26th March 2018”