Live review: Bird @ Liverpool Acoustic eXtra
plus The Sea Kings, and Thom Morecroft The View Two Gallery
Friday 9th March 2012
The fact that the Acoustic Music scene is thriving in Liverpool is due in no small part to the sterling efforts of Graham Holland and his Liverpool Acoustic organisation. As well as running the Liverpool Acoustic website, Graham also runs monthly acoustic music events with Stuart Todd featuring the best in acoustic performers. Occasionally he puts on a special event known as Liverpool Acoustic eXtra. This was one of those special events which featured a very impressive line up of artists, hand-picked by Graham as his “dream line up”. We were treated to Bird [top-notch psych-folk band from Liverpool], The Sea Kings [excellent acoustic trio from Cornwall], and Thom Morecroft [powerful singer-songwriter from Shropshire]. More about them later, first a word or two about the venue, the View Two Gallery on Matthew Street, Liverpool.
The View Two Gallery is one of the leading independent art galleries in the region. It’s a wonderful place to go because not only can you listen to great music, you can look at some beautiful art at the same time. Gallery owner Ken Martin is an enthusiastic supporter of the music and his Gallery is an oasis of calm and beauty compared with the boisterous tourist trap of Mathew Street [The Cavern, Eric’s, The Grapes, Lennon’s Bar, etc.] down below. Its intimate atmosphere makes it one of my favourite places to hear live music.
Back to the music. First on was Thom Morecroft. Graham had told me that Thom stands apart from the usual run of singer-songwriters and he was dead right. Thom is possessed of an amazingly powerful voice which brings to mind such singers as Joe Cocker or Kelly Jones. Accompanied by Christophe Cousineau on percussion, Thom performed a set of powerful, muscular, acoustic-guitar driven, self-written songs. He also showed another side by performing a lovely ballad on the gallery’s conveniently-placed grand piano. Thom got the night off to a great start.
Next up were The Sea Kings – James [vocals/guitar], Joe [vocals/mandolin], and Jake [vocals/percussion]. Originally from Cornwall, they met up in London when performing as solo artists. In appearance, they look like characters out of a Thomas Hardy novel but they have a really distinctive sound with glorious vocal harmonies and complex rhythms. Their songs have a very English pastoral quality, somewhat reminiscent of the gentler side of XTC. Several of their songs are, not surprisingly given the band’s name, about the sea [Swim; On The Beach]. Another excellent find.
Headlining the night were the wonderful Bird, led by the charismatic Adele Emmas on guitar and vocals. Bird describe their music as “atmospheric folk” but I would add the words “haunting”, “eerie” , “mesmeric” and “other worldly”. The nearest comparison I can make, as a rough guide, is to the Cowboy Junkies and such current bands as Trembling Bells and Two Wings but comparisons don’t do Bird justice,t hey sound like nobody else. There is a clue in their song titles – “The Witch Hunter”, ” Hey Hey Moonshine” and “Phantoms”, all of which feature on their critically-acclaimed debut EP. They also played some as-yet unrealeased songs [which may appear on their forthcoming album] including the new single “My Love Sleeps With Lions”. Their final number [before the encore “Phantoms”] was a “sultry “, slowed down version of The Stooges “I Wanna Be Your Dog”, complete with lashings of fuzz guitar. Brilliant stuff !
I could have listened to Bird for much longer but all too soon it was over and it was time to join the throng of revellers down on Mathew Street.