Live review: Liverpool Acoustic Afternoon @ Threshold Festival 2017
Artists: Niamh Jones
Three Minute Hero
Date: Saturday 1st April 2017
Venue: 24 Kitchen Street, Baltic Triangle
Reviewer: Ian D Hall, Liverpool Sound and Vision
Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Brighton may seem a world away from the banks of the Mersey, from the area that first nurtured the beautiful talent residing in Niamh Jones, yet the similarities between the two places are easily seen, both have suffered at the hands of those who believe that the past must be replaced with something unrecognisable, both have an all encompassing nature and both have taken in those who have added greatly to the charm and distinction to the area; Brighton could be seen in many ways as the Liverpool of the South, surrounded by the genteel and supposedly refined, its greatness stems from its ability to make anyone feel welcome.
It is a sentiment, a perfect emotion in which Niamh Jones comes through with honour, her music has always seeped into the heart unannounced, has always had a reaction in the mind in which it has been impossible to ignore and now, despite being so far from home, she continues to install a sense of love into the audience with her live sets.
Coming home after time away can be hard, it is not easy to step back into a life that has been perhaps wiped away gently, that has been removed because life is ever changing, ever evolving and the world will never stand still long enough for someone to catch up upon, yet for Ms. Jones there remains a rope, an anchor, which will forever tether her and keep her grounded, no matter how far she leaves Merseyside behind and it is in that that her music will surely always be heard as something to crave, something delicate but hard hitting and fascinating to witness being performed.
Threshold 2017 was a great reintroduction for the Liverpool music lovers, a place to be reacquainted with the sound of Niamh Jones and in the realm of 24 Kitchen Street that familiar handshake of an artist at peace in herself and in the world surrounding her, there could not have been a better nodding of heads and honest applause for her time on stage.
In tracks such as Silver, Neon Clouds, Waves, the exceptional and wonderfully observed Sirens and Tug of War, the lump in the audience’s throat could be seen quivering, this was a homecoming far too long in the making and whilst Brighton has become the place which covets her talent, Liverpool, Merseyside will always be the area which found her first; a daughter of the city is never forgotten, and in Niamh Jones that daughter stands tall and ready to take on the world.
Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
Sometimes you have to just take stock, regroup and reflect on life, it can happen at any time, to anyone but in the words of Derek King, To Be A Boy is not to forget what it means to be an adult, it just means that some emotions have to be looked at from the mind of the uncluttered, of the innocent and the open minded; taking stock is not defeatism, it is the greatest strength we possess and Derek King captures that feeling superbly, not only in the studio but also he performs it with aplomb live.
The temporary home for Liverpool Acoustic inside 24 Kitchen Street was the place in which the life of Threshold could be said to have assembled, fine artists, fine company and open ears, open minds to the possibility of something very special happening in the old warehouse turned venue. It was an afternoon in which the special did arrive and everyone played their part superbly, including one of the mainstays of the Liverpool acoustic scene, a musician who can cause the heart to break, to shatter into red bleeding pieces but who also has the magic ability to make you feel healed, make you whole in the space of a single song.
The set, which comprised the songs Sometimes, Sally, To Be A Boy, Better, the dancing delight of Across The Strings and Summer Rain, was one of tight intrigue, of the smile which beamed through the dark and of trust, a trust which Mr. King never fails to engage with.
There are always moments of special quality when it comes to Threshold, the sense of the restorative, of the reconciled and it never fails to lift the spirits when it is someone who gets the reason of how music is more than a song, more than a set of notes strung together in hope and harmony, music is there to heal, to soothe and keep close; as Derek King showed with charm and heart on sleeve, it is a healing that should never be dismissed.
Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
Threshold is dear to people hearts for many reasons, not only for the creative freedom it installs in area of Liverpool that has taken the idea of bohemian and originality to different level but also for the way it embraces the artistic and the resourceful, it is an avenue of thinking that really endorses the way in which Ian Janco comes across in his performance.
A measured secret, one that many have had the pleasure of but one also that doesn’t seem to have the tongues wagging enough over; crowds may talk of his ability but it doesn’t seem to break the final iced over façade that keeps many a terrific young artist from being seen for the beauty they offer. Yet measured secrets are for breaking down and as part of this year’s Threshold, the people behind Liverpool Acoustic really had the ace in the proverbial bag as they exposed Ian Janco to the limelight, to the industrial applause of the people who would truly love the music.
Kitchen Street is a venue that perhaps espouses the ideals of resourceful, of the inventive, it is far removed from the clean cut and cerebral beauty of the Philharmonic Hall and yet when all things are taken into consideration it has the same resonance of spirit for its artist as any venue, if anything it takes the artist to a different world because they understand that bricks and mortar in the end are only dust and it is in the fabric of the performer that makes the set flow with cool and distinguished appeal.
Aided by Zak Langford, Connor Di Leo and Reiss Greenwell, Ian Janco offered so much groove in such a short amount of time that the innovation, the spark of imagination exploded and grew at a rate of knots. It was a set that heads visibly moved, hearts celebrating a new found sense of freedom and one that should be acknowledged as entertaining and excellent.
With songs such as Out of The Blue, Morning Light, Never Fall, the ingeniously made up on the spot Let The Games Begin and Life all playing their part in making the set one to remember, Ian Janco more that showed that being a healthy secret is sometimes overrated, what is needed is an audience who will relish every moment and scream the name of their find to everyone, something that people should be unafraid to do more often.
Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *
It is not always about the extravaganza, the mighty venue, the plush carpet and the comfortable seats; it is rarely about that but some seem to believe that the experience of attending a gig is defined by the circumspect, the additions, the price tag or the illusion. It is a shame that the world has gone down the route of seeing things for their glitter and not for their honesty, for the very sense of real that comes over in an performance that capture the imagination and send your brain swimming into overdrive; all that glitters is not even palladium nickel, it is tarnished with that very illusion that makes it in the end cheap and bruising.
Reality is far and away so much easier to deal with, there is no cheapness, no illusion, no pancake, just simplicity, just life in all its glory and possibility and for Nicola Hardman, life is everything and it shows no matter where she performs and the extravaganza that some wait for, well that is all in her voice and the overwhelming way she weaves a tale.
Returning to 24 Kitchen Street, Nicola Hardman took Threshold by the scruff of the neck and soothed down any hearts that were already beating fast for the previous artists on the stage and instead gave the venue, not known for its plush carpet and extravagant seating but instead a place in which the voice is lofted and praised, an encounter that was different, sublime, energetic and yet masterly. In her own way Nicola Hardman at this moment would have reminded many of the young Tori Amos, an honour that is hard to bestow on anybody given the majesty in which that fine lady sits in many hearts, yet somehow is more than fitting now.
The searing vocal, the drama, the sheer scope of the songs make Nicola Hardman’s voice so enchanting, the feel of the musical is not lost, the performance not wasted for a single minute and the commotion of the world seemingly struck down by silence as the words filter across the space that 24 Kitchen Street provides.
It is to Threshold, to Liverpool Acoustic that the afternoon should be thanked but it is to Nicola Hardman that the day will be praised and as songs such as Too Late, the brilliant Unplug Your T.V. Just Human and Little Fish will always reside in the memory of those that took time out of the Threshold schedule to see.
One of the finest performances of any Threshold, a marvel and spine tingling, Nicola Hardman truly goes from strength to strength.
Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
Stuart Todd in the realms of Three Minute Hero will always make you stop and think, it is impossible not to feel the infectious delivery supplied by both the man and the band as the music plays, as the words of anger, of softness and damnation arise in the Threshold air, that moment of clarity will always come along and guide you to a point where life is truly to be seen as better for having been part of a Three Minute Hero audience.
Despite it only being the band’s first gig of the year, the resonating, contagious and raw feel of the music was such that the searing metal, of the forged blade and deep cut was felt with tangibility and grace. Not many can conquer a stony heart with a single word, with a stare of defiance, yet Stuart Todd openly overcomes defeatism, takes the blade to the wreck of greed and even if it was the first or the fifty-first gig of the year, the music is the weapon in which he delivers a truth, one that cannot be ignored.
Aided impeccably by Andy Fernihough and Chris Cousineau, Three Minute Hero delivered the songs Which Side Are You On, In A Generation, the outstanding and quite rightly thought of one of the great songs of the last decade 173 (Is Just A Number) and Piece of the Action to a Kitchen Street crowd that came for music and instead revelled in the acoustic sermon, the plain speaking truth of the way the world has become a playground for the destructive and a desolate hiding hole full of shadows for the rest.
One can never fault Stuart Todd, unabashed, forthright in his search for truth and justice, his music is a reflection of his soul and it is no wonder he remains such a popular character on the Threshold scene, a warrior who leads the way but who also cares deeply, something he showed with absolute sincerity at 24 Kitchen Street for this year’s Threshold Festival.
Ian D Hall
Review © 2017 Ian D Hall, Liverpool Sound and Vision
Live review: Liverpool Acoustic Afternoon @ Threshold 01/04/17
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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