I'll wager that it's not too often that at the end of a show the audience are more fatigued that the artist, but that just maybe have been the case tonight. As the clock slowly edged towards St. Patrick's Day, Gerry Colvin, and his redoubtable band, left the stage having undertaken two encore songs, some 20-odd minutes after a thunderous standing ovation. Indeed, at around 11.13 p.m. Gerry had quipped 'In honour of Ken Dodd we're about a quarter of the way through now'. Considering that his first set had started just after 9.10, with a short 'raffle' break, you probably get the gist.
To merely describe him as a consummate performer and incredible showman, both of which are appropriate epithets, would fail to do his performance tonight justice. Yes, he is an accomplished raconteur with a plethora of tales gleaned from over four decades as a performer, yes these anecdotes and tall tales are often surreal, and may or may not be true, yes he has an amazingly warm affinity with his audience which is infectious, and yes, his hyperactivity was present for all to see. Underlining all of this, however, is his undoubted musical talent; as an accomplished wordsmith, his clever, witty and often profound lyrics reflect the fact that he is so obviously a keen observer of life and a person of profound compassion.
Tonight, Gerry was accompanied by three excellent musicians, accordionist Trish Power, guitarist Lydon Webb (The Jigantics & Sons Of The Delta) together with local maker and repairer of string instruments, Jerome Davies on double bass and guitar, and collectively they generated high quality sounds which wove symbiotically and perfectly around Gerry's vocals and lyrics.
Over the course of the evening, we were treated to an eclectic range of musical styles, one minute being transported back to the mid-Twentieth century jazz of Saint Germain des Près, with the accordion-led Go And Ask Somebody Else, through folk, with The Tragic Conceit Of Captains Millbank & Kat, (a song in a previous incarnation entitled The Ghosts of the Black Lion Hotel), then through country, Americana, a touch of Celtic, a pinch of Mexican/South American and back again.
In addition to the sweep of genres, the set contained a blend of both emotions and topics, one moment reflecting on injustice and the failure of care in the community, the quite brilliant House Of The Setting Sun, tonight so movingly delivered with sparse, plaintive double bass accompaniment, the next he's lamenting the decline of the traditional pub with I'm Postponing My Rehab 'till Tomorrow, whilst light relief was never far away, for example with Johnny Cash Shirt.
Tonight's performance featured seven songs from Gerry's most recent release Back & Forth, including a glorious rendition of Watching Feathers Fall which had the audience harmonising along with the chorus, and Someone Else's Shoes which featured an outstanding guitar solo from Lydon.
Other musical highlights, and there were many, were drawn both from various previous offerings, including Six Of One Half A Dozen Of the Other, together with Colvin Quarmby releases. The Man With The Watch and The Bell both gave opportunity for Gerry's skill in composing delightful melodies to be displayed, as did The Ocean, which also featured lovely harmonies from Trish.
Reflecting upon the evening as a whole, and having consulted my notes, it is obvious that there were many other high-points, and indeed firsts, tonight. Mention must be made of the celebrity audience heckling from a certain Simon Nicol, together with my first experience of a Mexican wave at a folk club, although given the fact that this was Gerry, this was no ordinary wave, it involved eyebrow waves and buttock-clenching.
This, together with some highly original chorus singing, both whispered and then the request to 'just think about it', probably sums up the experience of a Gerry Colvin gig.
This was a compelling, efficacious evening, with humour, passion and high quality musicianship to the fore. Make the opportunity to catch Gerry live, you won't be disappointed, you never know you might even get a personal thank you for coming, as everyone did tonight, as Gerry bade goodbye to each audience member in turn at the exit door. Finally, To paraphrase Gerry, this is the only review in the whole world with the word efficacious in it. There is no rhyme for efficacious.
A special mention must also go to singer-songwriter Hannah Scott who, along with collaborator Stefano Della Casa, provided a delightful set featuring many songs from her soon to be released CD Pieces Of the Night, including the quite excellent Signs Of Life.
Go & Ask Somebody Else
I'm Postponing My Rehab 'till Tomorrow
The Tragic Conceit of Captains Millbank & Kat
The Man With A Watch
The Thistle And The Rose
Fate's Fast Car
House Of The Setting Sun
The Detective Song
God In The Bar
The Poacher The Highwayman & The Rustling Wheelwright
Someone Else's Shoes
Watching Feathers Fall
Johnny Cash Shirt
The Last Two People Left On Earth Tonight
One More Week
David Pratt - words, pics, video
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