There is something special about a home town gig, particularly when you have the freedom to try something new, no album or book to launch just take the chance to upscale your music from duo to band, stick a finger in the air and see how it all goes.
That's not to say it's without risk. Jon and Jay, aka Ninebarrow booked the theatre at the Lighthouse for this experiment and fortunately it was a case of build it and they will come. What Ninebarrow have actually built is a five piece band that literally gives them new strings to their bow and a formidable new unit.
Ex-Kadia and current Last Inkling, Lee Mackenzie on cello, has regularly played with Ninebarrow, but in addition a Fleetwood Mac(esque) combo of John Parker on bass and percussionist Evan Carson, two of the most in demand musicians on the acoustic scene, saw a real step up in the depth of sound and shows just how strong the writing and arranging skills of Ninebarrow are, for songs that are so familiar just to slide into a completely new unit.
The band arrived on stage with smiles and enthusiasm that never faded across the length of their set, unless the songs called for a more serious timbre. Though there was an unintentionally amusing moment where Jon forgot a verse and Jay's look told him so in no uncertain terms.
There were times when they dropped down to a duo, similarly trio and quartet, having such great musicians allow you to really mix it up it a way that is more difficult as a duo. Make no mistake, this is big venue music, it fills halls, not only with audience, but also with a depth of sound and a couple of band songs have already slipped out as a single.
If this was Ninebarrow looking for affirmation, they got it by the bucketload and this is the start of another leg of their famous journeys, check out their walking books. I think this was the best that I'd seen them, different yes and not to detract from their duo gigs, this was different and if truth be told, slightly less intimate, but it was a performance beyond the upscaling. The great news is that the experiment was a success and the pan goes into full production in the spring with a full tour, details on website.
It was a busy night for John Parker, who wasn't only part of the Ninebarrow Band, but was also half of the opening act, Ward Parker, that saw him teaming up with fellow Willows member Cliff Ward to play a set based around their debut album and currently out on tour in their own right.
As with Ninebarrow, Ward Parker feel very much at home in front of an audience, they have that personable banter and style that makes you feel warm towards them from the off. All in all a damned fine evening well spent.
Neil King words and pics
There are only so many hours in a day and only so many gigs we can get to. We'd really like to expand our national coverage of the live scene as it remains the life blood of music.
Are you able to help us and the artist you're seeing out by dropping us a review once you get back home, and maybe even a picture. If you are able to help, Mail Us your review and we'll get it up as quick as we can
The Fatea Showcase Sessions are a series of downloads featuring acts that we've really enjoyed and think that more people should get the chance to hear.
Click Here to get the latest session