I would like to think that the movie, Last Action Hero, still floats about in everyones subconscious and that the film is still somewhat culturally relevant. Last Action Hero was, in a sense, a celebration of 80s exuberance, pomposity and materialism. And it was also very satirical, albeit not in a very Paul Verhoeven way. For those who are unfamiliar with the Schwarzenegger film, it was fantasy come comedy-action flick that broke the forth wall and inserted celebrity cameos into, near enough, every scene. It also threw our main characters into different fictional universes; occupying worlds and settings that everyone was, then, familiar with.
Bizarrely this movie came to mind when watching David Ford’s show. Like Last Action Hero, Fords performance required the audience to go back in time and recall images and sounds from the early naughties all the way up to the present. Whereas John McTiernan’s movie relied heavily on 80s Hollywood pastiche, Ford relies on British indie pop, contemporary Americana and blues rock. Dressed somewhat like a young and slimmer Tom Waits, Ford, accompanied by his one man orchestra rhythm section, Darren Beckett, spews his inner Mark Lanegan out into the audience. And while his vocals may not be as whiskey soaked or as coffee stained as the ex-Screaming Trees main man, it still sounds grainy and coarse, eschewing pop blues cliche. Ford’s next tune A Hundred Streets proves the man can write massive anthemic numbers, indeed, it felt somewhat criminal not to hear it being performed on a bigger stage.
After a healthy dose of blues-rock, we saw Beckett walk off stage leaving Ford to sing some acoustic numbers. And if I am honest, this part of the gig morphed into something else entirely, it was much more intimate. However the songs felt a little ushered and ‘lighter’ in tone and thus they failed to capture upon the energy of the full band, or Beckett rather. This changed dramatically however upon hearing Stephen. Stephen is a song dedicated to Stephen Carroll, a police officer shot in Northern Ireland in 2009. Ford gave the audience a little backstory behind the tune and revealed that he had contacted Carroll’s widow, Kate, telling her that the song was dedicated to her. This felt very honest and heartfelt and I also found it to be extremely sincere and approachable.
Beckett returned to the stage and the band performed more blues infused pop rock which included a ferocious cover of Leonard Cohen’s First We Take Manhattan. The tune, almost unrecognisable, sounded nothing at all like the original cut. Indeed this version rumbled like something of The Matrix soundtrack, a fantastic cover of a cult classic. Ford’s final track, Why Don’t You Answer Your Telephone was something else entirely. A beautiful song that is both crushingly heavy and emotional, deep and provocative, sounding almost like Joe Cocker jamming 70’s era Pink Floyd.
David Ford is an artist who takes his music very seriously. He, and his one band, are extremely professional. They do not cower in silence nor do they miss a note, and that said, Ford was sure to remind the audience that his vocals were not even on top form, drinking tea between songs. David Ford is a multi instrumentalist who plays about with lots of different sub-genres, all of which are bracketed within alternative rock and pop. And at times one feels that the songs are trying to ape their contemporaries, perhaps a little too much. Some of which lack the grit and conviction of other artists. But all that was overshadowed by Ford’s live presence on stage, his ‘relatability’, his enthusiasm and his gaiety. Top show.
After visiting Rome and seeing the incredible Baroque art and architecture wonderfully decorated inside the many chapels and churches there, one can see how ‘human creativity’ has influenced and shaped who we are as a species. I would go as far as to say that visual art and music, performance and literature, drive our species in all areas of human development. As both a musician and writer, I feel like I can experience both the process, creation of music and text, the finished product, and apply these experiences to my writing.
As a post-graduate in Popular Music Studies, I have learnt how to ‘view’ a piece of music and analyse it from all angles. As a music-lover, I have a huge back catalogue of CDs, records, biographies and magazines to reference from, with which I enjoy reviewing music. I currently review live shows and music for online music magazine ‘3 Songs & Out’ and I have studied with Liverpool theatre company ‘Grin Theatre’ At present, I work for Vulcan Studios Ltd which is a music rehearsal and recording studio complex. All of these organisations have taught me how to work within a creative environment and how to perfect my writing skills.
I look forward to meeting and working with other writers and musicians and I hope to learn from them and their peers.