Live review: Liverpool Acoustic Afternoon The View Two Gallery Saturday 9th June, 2012
What better to do on a rainy Saturday afternoon than to listen to acoustic music? Three floors above the leery pavements of Mathew Street, away from shopping madness and breaths above jubilant drinking pits at ground and basement level, Ken Martin opened his independent haven, The View Two Gallery, and the singer-songwriters unfolded into the afternoon. Just two were asked to play in advance, many others learned of the event and chanced there was a spot for them to perform a set.
Champion of keeping the acoustic live, real and new, Graham Holland presented and was co-assisted soundly by musician and engineer, Stuart Todd. The gallery filled up and, with standing room only, guitars were tuned and wires threaded across the parquet to the soundboard -itself akin to an installation artwork.
Brave to step up first, teenager George Lawless gave a stunningly-sophisticated performance of soothing instrumental guitar, no airs or graces, no vocal required. George has raw talent and, young though he is, we can only guess how this will develop. Simply great.
James Woodruff, guitar vocalist, gave a contrasting second set and the wood was indeed roughened by a hard deep timbre of acoustic rock and steady, rhythmic strumming. Beneath a black beanie-hat, Woodruff’s face fades as he peers downward and becomes simultaneously visually intense and tidily set as the paintings around the square space, which he grazes with his voice. His music is lyrically potent: “I’d love you, but I’m a zero”. Nah, you’re at least a nine out of ten.
Approaching the grand piano, Debbie Richards, the first of two booked acts sits gracefully and, after a false start, begins again unfazed, with a beautiful ballad. A couple of songs sweep over a mesmerised audience and then she announces she’s about to cover (please God not Adele –nope!) Hey, hey…Buddy Holly! “I Guess it Doesn’t Matter Anymore” and a slow-paced sing-along of the classic ensues. Her version is genius. The small crowd were embraced by Debbie’s soulful voice and dramatic piano playing. Following with another of her own, “Fall Apart” is dappled with shades of the Annie Lennox, with similar vocal power and poignant lilts. Debbie’s lyrical alliteration is inventive with fitting run-on poetics and words of more than two, certainly up to five syllables.
No faltering from the heart of the song’s intention. “Go Away”, paces the tempo fast. This felt right as her signature. Overall, Debbie Richards gave a highly entertaining, soulful, vigorous and dramatic performance.
Chris Callander is as opposite as one performer could be from the prior. A loud rock sonic guitar vocalist, Chris, a solo artist, seemed misplaced at the venue. Though a masterful finger-picker, Calendar’s vocal was cool to the melody. Lacking in memorable riff or chorus, in spite of this the audience clung to his playing.
A spicy-looking red guitar sported the next performer, blues standards maestro, Dan Lynch, who can be best described as a guitarists’ guitarist. Dan opened with a song penned in 1923 by Jimmy Cox – an Eric Clapton favourite – “Nobody Loves You When You’re Down and Out”, followed by an original song “Medicine Man”. Dan continued to please the audience with a memorable seventies’ hit by a group called The Band “The Weight” (Take a load off, Annie).
Lacking in chairs, the well-populated gallery was well entertained. Dan returned to the stage later with another cover, “At the Dark End of the Street.” A pesky guitar lead snaked around his foot, making the sound intermittent, thankfully no lasting damage, just heart-warming chuckles all around. Talented live performers deserve a little ego-kick now and again.
Experienced duo Rob Jones and Rob White followed with pure folk acoustic. Performing separately from their band, the two Robs harmonise well. Jones is the solo guitarist, this afternoon. Professional artists with catchy songs, their own “Monday to Sunday” particularly caught the crowd. I recommend you catch them, too. Luckily, they will return to present their special evening of folk acoustic at The View Two Gallery on Friday 29th June (doors 8pm, £3 admission). They hope to catch you there.
Quirky and fun, painter/artist, curator and musician, Jazamin Sinclair, looks as though she has stepped out of a 1920s theatre set. She covers more recent chart hits by Eliza Dolittle, “Pack Up” and Gabriella Cilmi, “Nothing Sweet About Me”, respectively. (I loved your dress and co-ordinating guitar lead, babe!)
Jazamin returned later to close the show with Joni Mitchell’s “Conversation”. She has the type of infectious energy to make an audience tap their feet and clap their hands. A fabulous performance.
Sean Michael Buls (former band-member of The Suns) was the other of Graham and Stuart’s pre-booked artists and played some instrumental guitar, funky and fast. Reminiscent sounds of Hollywood’s Wild West were well-received by all. The music was impressive.
All acts were diverse and should be congratulated for giving up their afternoon to entertain, this time for free. Also, Graham Holland and Stuart Todd are invaluable to the acoustic scene and most welcoming to new artists and new audiences to support them. Their reward is to expand audiences for such talented musicians. They hope to see you, next time.
Amanda is an almost unheard of self-published novelist, poet and playwright from Kirkdale, Liverpool. She lives with her almost-teenage daughter and their cat, Rodrick. She is proud to have graduated from Liverpool John Moores University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing. University taught her many lessons, not least of which, that of how little she knows and will ever learn. Local music and arts reviews are a pleasing diversion from staying home. She doesn't drink alcohol, or smoke, and tries to keep fit at her local gym, pool and sauna. She was told by headache experts to give up cocoa and caffeine about a year ago. It works, she suffers fewer headaches (chocolate is replaced easily with other sweets, and caffeine with decaf). Amanda writes almost daily, her current project concerns editing a second novel, which she completed in 2008. She regularly needs her head testing so pay no mind if she offends you. Her best friends are books.
Favourite idioms include: "Wind your neck in." and "Have a word with yourself."
Recently overheard insult: One boy to another in the changing rooms after a Saturday swim - "Shurrup, you victim!"
Best words of wisdom: "It'll be all right."