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PJ Millson + Border Tales

Venue: St James Church Hall
Town: Exeter
Date: 21/01/17
Website: https://peterjamesmillson.com/

Based in Exeter, Twiggs Gigs has a growing reputation for relaxed and intimate gigs that allow the featured artists to perform to their highest levels. The latest gig featured Peter James Millson, a singer songwriter who likewise has a growing reputation, with two well received albums already released, and another coming soon produced by Boo Hewerdine. Support came in the guise of two thirds of Border Tales (Jane Newton-Yeo and Trevor Lloyd), along with Greg Hancock and Jo Hooper.

The opening was impressive given that the foursome of Jane, Trevor, Greg and Jo had not performed together before. Greg and Jo had stepped in as late additions to the line-up after Paul Ewings had to drop out, and they fitted in seamlessly despite the lack of practice. Among the highlights were Widow of Samson Isle from their Three By Three EP, and Dead Roses, both of which went down a storm with the audience. We were also treated to a rendition of Greg Hancock's recent single, The Longest Night, which sounded truly beautiful from this group of talented musicians.

After a short break to allow everybody to raid the wide variety of Twiggs Gigs cakes (which are becoming a legend in their own right), Peter James Millson stepped up for his set. In the flesh Millson is humble and unassuming, not full of stories and anecdotes, but with a confidence in his songs to do the talking for him. It is a confidence that is well placed, with a set that was both engaging and enthralling from start to finish.

From the first song, In Winter (taken from his debut album Sweet The Love That Meets Return), to the superb cover of Nancy Griffiths' Love At The Five And Dime, Peter had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. There were a few more songs from his most recent album, The Red Café, including a spine-tingling rendition of the title track, and the wonderful Hook On The Line. The majority of the songs he played were new, with several due to be released on his next intriguing album, Mobile.

Mobile is an album recorded entirely on a windows phone, which is due to be released this year. Peter was at his most passionate and eloquent when talking about the album, which is clearly a project he is hugely proud of. There's a campaign coming soon to Indiegogo, and if the songs he played at the gig are anything to go by, he's right to be excited by this one. In particular True Believer and We've Got It All are fantastic songs, showcasing Peter's vocal range and unique delivery. It sounds like a campaign well worth backing.

The gig finished with a new song, Two Wheels Good, and Victory Lap from The Red Café. The former came from his memories of riding his bike while listening to Prefab Sprout's seminal album, Steve McQueen (named Two Wheels Good in the States), and is full of a sense of nostalgia. Victory Lap is Peter's ode to the great Glen Campbell and is a gorgeous song.

It really does feel as if Peter James Millson will soon be a name on everybody's lips, and that 2017 could be a real breakout year for him. Certainly on the strength of this gig, he should be a far bigger name than he is right now. Mobile is one of the most intriguing concepts I've heard of in quite some time, and I'm eager to hear how the songs will turn out. I'll be backing the crowd funding campaign, and I hope many more do so as well. This has the potential to be one of the best of albums of the year.

I'd urge anyone to get out to see Peter James Millson perform (and indeed Border Tales, Greg Hancock and Jo Hooper) if he plays near you. Having travelled from Berkshire to Exeter myself to see him play, he's well worth the journey. Given there was a couple that had come down from Essex just to see him, I'm sure they would agree heartily with me.

Adam Jenkins

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