I'll wager that tonight's superb Charlie Dore show, the first of the 2019 #DarkMatter tour which references, amongst many other things, physics and metaphysics, would certainly give the world-wide phenomenon that is "Pint of Science", which does so much to popularise and explain science to the masses, a run for their money, with the added bonus that we benefited from witnessing song-writing and musicianship of the highest quality too.
A consummate performer, Charlie is also an extremely engaging raconteur, with tales and anecdotes humorously shared, together with the ability to create a wonderfully warm affinity with her audience. Underscoring all of this, however, is her undoubted musical talent. As an accomplished word and tune-smith, her intelligent, thoughtful and often profound lyrics reflect the fact that she is so obviously a keen observer of life, unerringly able to simultaneously conflate what appears to be a universal theme into an intensely personal and autobiographical focus, and vice-versa.
Tonight, Charlie was accompanied by multi-talented polymath, and long-time co-pilot of the airwaves, Julian Littman on both vocals and a variety of instruments. These wove symbiotically and perfectly around those of Charlie herself, as one might expect given the longevity of their professional relationship; the chemistry between them is palpable, somewhat appropriate in the circumstances.
To highlight just three songs of the 14 presented as an example, from reflecting on the cautionary tale of alcoholic excess with Firewater, through the tender, uplifting narrative tale that is Dennis and Rose, and beyond this to the jaunty, if slightly unnerving, Elmore Leonard inspired Maximum Bob, merely scratches at the surface of an evening in we were treated to a set of songs that, to misappropriate Dorothy Parker's critique, truly covered the gamut of emotions from A to Z.
Tonight's performance featured eight songs from Charlie's current double award winning release Dark Matter, including moving versions of the poignant Nothing To Be Scared Of and the intense Personal Hell along with an entrancing rendition of Fly, 9th July with a new, plaintive Steinway-emulated keyboard arrangement, getting its first live outing tonight, owing more to the DM recording than the original, which appeared on 2012's Finally, a Limousine E.P. (View an extract here.)
Other musical highlights, and there were so many, were drawn from previous releases Sleep All Day, The Hula Valley Songbook, Cheapskate Lullabyes, and Milk Roulette, with a well-crafted set-list that reflects the experience and professionalism of the performers.
The capacity audience at St Edith quite rightly rapturously demanded, and received, an encore, after which I noted the following ...
Observation 1 - The audience initially remained rooted to their seats, taking in what they had been privileged to witness
Observation 2 - Plaudits such as "Wow, what an amazing evening.", "Great gig", "That was such a good night", "She is so entertaining", "I just love those lyrics" were heard in abundance
Observation 3 - There were queues and brisk trade at Charlie's merchandise table
Conclusion? I was obviously not the only one to think that this was a superbly compelling evening, with intelligence, humour, passion and high quality musicianship to the fore.
To paraphrase a lyric from Dark Matter's 15 Minutes with Danny Kaye, 'The world is a better place' after listening to Charlie, make the opportunity to catch her live, you won't be disappointed. Further 2019 #DarkMatter Tour dates can be found on her web-site.
A special mention must also go to support act Alex Bayly & Josh Wolfsohn, two youngsters currently making names for themselves, who performed an excellent, very well-received, set. Keep an eye and ear out for them too.
David Pratt, worrds, pic, video
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