Live review: Jo Bywater EP launch @ Liverpool Acoustic Live plus Little Sparrow (Manchester), Anna Corcoran, ME and Deboe View Two Gallery Friday 27th September 2013
It’s great to see live music flourishing. As I entered the View Two Gallery there was already a sea of people. I made my way to a chair, dropped my bag and headed to the bar, when I returned my seat was gone! I found myself a small space in the corner of the room and stood there a while until I noticed some bar stools, quickly I grabbed one and headed back to the space only to find someone else stood in my spot. I could continue to moan but let’s face it, this is what we want! We want music venues to be packed out with people all here to support local musicians and tonight’s musicians deserve that support.
Opening the night was Little Sparrow from Manchester, the only act on the line up I wasn’t familiar with. With a softly strummed acoustic guitar and a Bjorklike powerful voice Katie Ware moved around the stage almost birdlike captivating the audience. Sadly half of her band did not make the show (damn you break downs!). But luckily her violinist Graham Clark did, the addition of violin to her songs made an immediate impact with Graham taking lead breaks and playing the violin like Slash would an electric guitar changing slower songs from the usual singer songwriter style to something much more aurally pleasing. On another bill Little Sparrow could have stood out as an amazing talent but with the line up on offer she did not make a huge impact on me.
Next up was an act that I have only managed to catch once but I hear about a lot. She was nominated for a Liverpool Music Award this year, has had a single placed on Radio 2 playlists and has released the ‘Anything Better’ Ep to much acclaim. Of course I am talking about Anna Corcoran, who made very good use of the View Two’s grand piano. Tonight she was joined by the fantastic Stephanie Kearley on cello, and let’s face it has anyone ever said ‘There is too much cello on that track’? Nope. Anna’s set was a refreshing change from the usual singer songwriters that grace the many stages around Liverpool, and indeed the UK, with songs both gentle yet powerful and a voice that could carry itself well without the mic. Closing the set with her recent single ‘The Show’ Anna delivered a very enjoyable set that could easily have been a headline tonight.
Third on the bill were the fabulous ME and Deboe. I’ve seen ME and Deboe several times this year and they have never failed to impress me, tonight was no exception. Initially I was worried at how their loud, fast and often frantic guitars would sit with the quiet, appreciative audience in the View Two, they were easily the loudest and heaviest of the acts on display tonight and rather than draw you in with a soft voice and picked guitar ME and Deboe throw harmonies, a rush of guitars and beautiful songs at their audience. As it happens I need not have feared as by the end of their set the girls had made fans of everyone in the audience and received a well deserved rapturous applause after each song. Mixing their set from their recent EP as well as some new songs ME and Deboe have a bright future ahead of them.
And so onto our final act of the night, the act that many people had come here to see, Jo Bywater. Tonight was the launch of her new EP ‘Chasing Tales’ and also the first time I had seen her perform with a backing band. First though she treated us to several solo songs from her previous release which captivated the audience and held attention as though there had been a full band on stage. Jo has a distinct blues sound to her songs and watching her fingers meticulously find the correct notes, slides and chords is an impressive sight, evidently when Jo writes she takes time choosing exact notes and patterns rather than bashing out any old chords, it pays off. Finishing her solo set she welcomed up her backing band, Blythe Cooper on flute and cajon, Jo Cook on harmonies and Andrew Jones on electric guitar, adding another dimension to her songs and they blasted through ‘Chasing Tales’ in full. With an added rhythm section Jo’s guitar was able to shine through with slides, picks and taps throughout the new songs, ‘Woollen Heart’ in particular. Wrapping up her set with an impressive rendition of ‘Chopping Wood’, the opening track of ‘Chasing Tales’ Jo spoke of combating writers block, restarting the writing process and the ever infuriating hope that the audience will enjoy the end result, I think it’s safe to say they did for as the band finished Jo was requested to play one more and finished the show as it started just her voice and her guitar, fantastic.
James Addis is the man behind Birmingham’s successful Addsitock Acoustic Nights. Starting off as a way of raising money for Macmillan Nurses and an opportunity to see some of his favourite bands on a regular basis Addistock has seen some of the UK’s leading purveyors of folk punk come to play house shows, BBQs, Chuch halls and venues. A Drama Teacher by trade Addis is also the man responsible for the Black Country folk/indie band Carlos and the Jackal and has played across
the country, taking in festivals and anywhere that would have them over the years playing guitar, mandolin and ukulele at different periods of the bands life. Now, having recently moved to Liverpool a new challenge has arisen with The Addistock Sessions, a video blog that invites bands to showcase one of their own songs and a cover of their choice acoustically. Addis has also played a part in 2000 Trees Festival history and in 2012 has been granted his own ‘Addistock Takeover’ stage at the festival in Cheltenham.