Ian D Hall reports back on the first four performers at the Liverpool Acoustic Afternoon at Elevator Bar as part of Threshold 2013, on Saturday 9th March – The Tenements, Ronan Boyle, Caroline England, and Gary Edward Jones.
UPDATE: We’ve added a couple of short reviews for Laura&Claire, and Synne Eilenn & the Sunbeams courtesy of the Threshold Blog.
Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * *
The first band on the stage on the Saturday in Elevator for the Threshold Festival was the recently renamed The Tenements and despite the tight timings that quite rightly imposed on the artists to keep the afternoon on track, gave a very good account of themselves and their music.
Formally known as Matt Reekie and the Bridges, the three piece band showed their forceful side during the six songs and gave the early festival goers something splendid to hang their enjoyment of the weekend upon. Despite the pressure of kicking starting the second day, the three lads performed well and their opening number When I See Her Face was well received and a cracking song to be introduced to the group with.
The three young men proved their mettle and their worth with tracks such as It’s Raining Again, the wonderful Sara and Here It Comes providing some great music and for those inside Elevator; the appetite for the weekend ahead was whetted perfectly and the soaring guitar notes providing some wonderful undiscovered brilliance at an early time.
The threesome finished their well deserved time on stage with the songs It’s A Shame and the very cool Moon.
The Tenements are a band to keep an eye on, full of fun and very interesting to watch live. Age and more gigs will only serve to further enhance their reputation. A very pleasant surprise on the day.
Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Ronan Boyle stands on the stage at Elevator and time almost stands still, the music he has created gives a huge nod to the acoustic folk/rock scene of the 1970s and the very gentle guitar playing hides a big personality and a very good lyric writer. Not that Ronan needs to hide behind his guitar, if anything it adds an air of mystique to the performance of a man who is so very good at what he does.
The scenic beauty of Warrenpoint, the town in County Down, Northern Ireland, has obviously played a part in the development of Ronan’s music and his guitar playing frames this perfectly. At times soaring and at others smooth and enticing and a ideal partner for his voice which carries a song so well that it reminds the audience of those others that have come from Ireland and made Liverpool their musical home.
Opening his set with the fantastic Looking for Rococco, Ronan played the music so well that by the end of his short set it was with great reluctance for the audience to let him leave the stage. In amongst his set list were some great gems including the songs weightless, the superb More or Less the Meaning of Life and Big Belly Sleep.
As introductions go into the new music that keeps Liverpool alive and revitalised, to watch this gentle man from County Down perform his music is a big plus of what had turned out to be a superb day of music in Liverpool. It is with performers such as Ronan that keeps Liverpool forever entwined with being the main city of culture in the UK Ronan Boyle exemplifies this premise perfectly.
Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
The Threshold Festival had already had a successful day on the Friday and as the new day blew away the cobwebs and aching joints of the Saturday morning, Elevator, the acoustic venue for the weekend and part of the superbly run Graham Holland acoustic set up in the city, welcomed new and much loved established performers through its doors and the early part of the afternoon revelled in the music on offer.
As part of the initial afternoon’s music, Caroline England, from Hoylake on the Wirral, stepped on stage and blew those assembled away with her fantastic voice and wonderfully formed songs. Having the honour as the first woman on the stage on the day, Caroline wasted no time in settling into her set and won over the early crowd with five songs that sounded chilled, wonderfully weaved together with abundance of talent, a talent that sees her not just musically cool to listen to but also an artist of some repute.
Elevator had already opened its heart and ears to The Tenements and the subtle tones of the man from County Down, Ronan Boyle and with the time available to her, they stood and took Caroline England to their hearts also. The music she created was reminiscent of the much missed Kirsty MacColl, ironic, full of great imagery and with a refined and dignified merit that marks her out as musician to catch again and again.
Amongst Ms. England’s tracks that she played were the interesting I Still Love You, That Place, the cutting Put Me On Reserve, the superb and well observed Ginger, which was greeted enthusiastically by all shades of hair colours in the building and which was beautifully amusing but with a sad undercurrent and the finale It’ll Be Alright.
A cracking set in which Caroline made many new friends and new set of fans with her amazing and mind-blowing repertoire, one to catch as soon as possible.
Gary Edward Jones
Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
There is something homely about Gary Edward Jones as he takes his place on the stage at Elevator, his demeanour relaxed but full of life, a reputation that he has carved out as a musician over the last few years and as someone who has that extra bit of spice in his musicianship as he performs.
After following on from a superb set by Caroline England, Gary Edward Jones continued to set the bar very high for the performers that would follow over the course of the day and for the remainder of the weekend.
It could have all been so different though; Gary could have been watching the music festival rather than being an early important part of it. If time were to have taken a different course the Gary may have been enjoying a cup of tea and watching the performance instead of having the thrill of the audience’s appreciation flow over him as he went through his five songs. What five great songs they were as well, full of pathos, intelligence and the empathy that is needed to be a very good songwriter.
Kicking off his section of the early afternoon with the song Is This Real? It was possible to think that it was exactly what he was thinking as he played the exquisite notes and sang the soulful lyrics. Gary continued with the performance as he sang the heartfelt and towering song Free Falling which sent shivers down the spine as the song’s inspiration became clear.
Like other acts over the weekend, 20 minutes is not a long time to get to understand a performer properly, especially if it is the first time you have had the pleasure in seeing them on the stage. However it was very plain that this is a man who deserves his time as an acoustic hero of Liverpool, his music, no matter the subject matter is infectious and stirring and as he finished his time on the Elevator stage with the songs Lovestruck and Bang, Bang, Bang there was just the hint in all present that this is a man that needs to be seen again.
A real pleasure to catch this fine musician live.
© 2013 Ian D Hall – Liverpool Sound and Vision
Over at Elevator, Laura and Claire, a folk duo with strawberry hued hair and equally drama hued music impressed, reminding me of an up and coming Smoke Fairies.
Words: Sebastian Gahan – Threshold Blog
Synne Eileen & the Sunbeams
Around the corner at Elevator, Liverpool Acoustic were running the show. Lively beats beckoned from Synne Eileen and the Sunbeams. Pure, high tempo happiness. The musical equivalent of a sunny day off work when you’ve got milk in the fridge. And full of surprises. A fab tinkling piano sound from their keyboard player ripped into a thumping backbeat that made even dancing-phobes tap a toe.
Words: Emma Cruces – Threshold Blog
Live review: Liverpool Acoustic Afternoon @ Elevator Bar 9/3/13
Ian D. Hall was brought up in Birmingham and spent the vast majority of his teenage years in Bicester, near Oxford. He grew up loving music from a very early years.
In the last ten years Ian has written reviews for the Birmingham Evening Mail, Liverpool Live, Chris High and the University of Liverpool’s L.S. Media web site. For the last year of his graduate degree he was joint Arts Editor for L.S. Media and it has been his privilege to write on many of the arts in Liverpool, Merseyside, the U.K. and the rest of the World, having reviewed gigs as far as away as Poland and Canada.
Liverpool has been his home for the last eight years and is without doubt the most vibrant, most cultural part of the UK. His love of music and theatre has led him to see great bands and plays, not just in Liverpool but the wider artistic community. His dearest music loves are Punk, Progressive Rock, Metal, Rock, folk and pop.
Ian D. Hall graduated from the University of Liverpool in June 2012 with a degree of Bachelor of Arts with Honours in English. He now edits the Liverpool Sound and Vision website.
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