Indigo Girls, Islington Assembly Hall, London, 29th July 2017

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers took to the stage to rapturous applause and resounding cheers.  It’s been eight years since they last toured the UK and it was clear that the Indigo Girls had been missed as they launched into Fighting For The Love Of Our Lives, an upbeat number with lovely harmonies. For the next song, Ozilline, they were joined onstage by Lucy Wainwright Roche, who contributed on and off throughout the evening. This was followed by one of the many highlights of the evening and a clear crowd favourite, Fill It Up Again. A mesmerising song with entwined vocals that exuded feel good vibes. Continue reading “Indigo Girls, Islington Assembly Hall, London, 29th July 2017”

Summertyne Americana Festival – Sunday, Free Stages, The Sage – Gateshead, 23rd July 2017

On the banks of the Tyne stands the silver bauble that is the Sage, its otherworldly structure home this weekend to some world class performers, surely covered elsewhere on these pages. The bit that always interests me is the free stuff, not just because I’ve been living in Yorkshire a long time, but because it’s always a source of some of the most interesting and new bands. Continue reading “Summertyne Americana Festival – Sunday, Free Stages, The Sage – Gateshead, 23rd July 2017”

John Murry + Lucas & King, St Mary’s Church, Guildford, 22nd July 2017

Upon arriving at the cobbled graveyard front entrance of St Mary’s church (with the support act having already begun) I could see looking at me in the shadows, by the corner of his tour van, the top-hatted and dark coated, pale thin features of John Murry. Sadistically I felt like requesting that he walk to the church’s rear side where a crowd of backpacked American students were investigating, selfie-ing & photo bombing. The gothic haunted vision of Murry would no doubt have provided them with the exact image they possibly sought. Their biggest surprise however would’ve been finding out this Dickensian non-ghost was actually from their very own shores. Continue reading “John Murry + Lucas & King, St Mary’s Church, Guildford, 22nd July 2017”

The Hellfire Club, The Troubadour London, 20th July 2017

Full credit to sound guy Stacey, the venue owners and the staff for their enthusiastic running of this basement bar of a music venue in London’s West Brompton, the easy option to have the premises solely as a bohemian cafe/bar in the increasingly by the day gentrified area. First of the acoustic support acts is Elliot Pritchard with a very fine vocal and mix of earnest songwriter with British indie melodies. He was followed by Anglo Aussie duo Hux whose dual guitar upbeat riffing combined with fine harmonies was received well by the sold out crowd. The Headliners, the Glasgow based Hellfire Club can only yearn for a wide stage but tonight the eight piece (vocals/guitars/bass/drum/keys/fiddle/saxophone) daren’t move too much due to the small stage limitations. Continue reading “The Hellfire Club, The Troubadour London, 20th July 2017”

Maverick Festival, Easton Farm Park, Suffolk, 30th June-2nd July 2017

Ten years and ‘still kickin’’ according to this year’s t-shirt, Maverick is THE festival on the Americana calendar. it’s the one everyone wants to play and the yard stick by which other festivals  have measured themselves (and been inspired by). Now firmly branded as ‘Americana & Roots’ it started using the much missed tag ‘alt country’. With three indoor (well in tractor sheds and barns) stages and an afternoon outdoor stage on which Albert Lee was the headline its family friendly, with good chow and a hotch-potch of stalls. It’s only failing is its early close every night. Continue reading “Maverick Festival, Easton Farm Park, Suffolk, 30th June-2nd July 2017”

Shakin’ Stevens + Danni Nicholls, York Barbican, York, 19th May, 2017

It’s a big room for the ‘bard from Bedford’, resplendent in a suitably showbiz spangling top. Danni Nichol is comfortable in a room that houses both the UK snooker championships and Amy MacDonald in a few weeks.  Bluesy, Gospelly, there is a wonderful grace to her voice and her tales of Nashville, along with Beautifully Broken from Mockingbird Lane, and some spontaneous sing-a-longs proves her to be the perfect warm-up and it can’t be long before she plays places like this in her own right. Continue reading “Shakin’ Stevens + Danni Nicholls, York Barbican, York, 19th May, 2017”

Red Rooster Festival, Euston Hall, Suffolk, 1-3 June 2017

Suffolk is such a green place when you live in treeless Yorkshire, every time I stray there I feel the inner workings of my soul refreshed.  Normally I wander that way once a year for Maverick, but this year it’s two journeys in a month, for the three day Red Rooster Festival is on the cards.  The first thing I notice is the amount of camper vans and caravans vs tents, a 50:50 split suggests this is an older, more affluent crowd. Continue reading “Red Rooster Festival, Euston Hall, Suffolk, 1-3 June 2017”

Annie Keating + Christina Martin, York Basement, York, 25th June 2017

The debut York performance of Canada’s Christina Martin, tonight with Producer/Husband Dale Murray on guitar, has been a long time coming, but it’s worth the wait.  Tonight she’s the support, later in the tour with her UK band the roles are reversed. It’s a hell of a support.  She plays a mix of stuff from a forthcoming “fall” album, her critically acclaimed ‘It’ll Be Alright’ and older stuff – what my boy calls her “brown hair period”.  The Basement’s subterranean feeling is a great spot for an intimate gig like this, punters and performers shunted together and Martin feeds on this. Continue reading “Annie Keating + Christina Martin, York Basement, York, 25th June 2017”

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”