Silent Sleep, Vanessa Murray and Charlie McKeon

Venue: View Two Gallery
Town: Liverpool
Dates: 25/9/15

The admirable Liverpool Acoustic organisation [Graham Holland and Stuart Todd] has much in common with Fatea Magazine. They both support and provide an opportunity for new and up-and-coming performers in the field of roots and acoustic music to showcase their talents. Tonight's Liverpool Acoustic Live event at the fabled View Two Gallery on Mathew Street in Liverpool[probably the most famous music street in this country, if not the world] was no exception as we had three incredibly talented artists in the form of Charlie McKeon, Vanessa Murray and Silent Sleep [aka Chris McIntosh] ,and all for an admission fee of £5.00!

Opening the evening was Charlie McKeon ,a superb acoustic guitarist who lives on a narrowboat. Charlie cites Nick Drake and Paul Simon as his influences, and I can certainly detect the former's influence in his beautiful and complex guitar-playing and the latter's influence in his singing. Charlie's music also has a strong Irish flavour to it ,not surprising really as his Great Grandfather was a musician in the famous Band of the Garda. Indeed, Charlie played for us "Travers Jig" a tune written by his Great Grandfather ,which Charlie learned by listening to it on the internet. Charlie's Irish roots were also apparent on a lovely version of "The Auld Triangle"[ a film of tonight's performance of this song has been posted on You Tube, which I recommend]. Charlie is also a formidable songwriter as his compositions ,such as "My Love's A Preacher" and "Some Years Are Good" amply demonstrate . His songs are highly original ,with complex structures taking in jazz,folk and blues influences. It seems incredible to me that such an accomplished performer as Charlie has not yet released any recordings .Do check him out on You Tube.

Next up was another highly talented songwriter, Vanessa Murray. Vanessa won the Liverpool Acoustic Songwriting Challenge back in 2012 and it is difficult to believe that she is still only 20 years of age, such is the maturity of her writing. The song which won the Challenge was "I Don't Want To Lose You Like This" and ,naturally, Vanessa performed it for us tonight .

Vanessa is due to release her debut EP shortly and we were treated to previews of the title track "It's About Time" ,and other tracks ,including "To Break The Mould" and "Worlds Apart".

Vanessa is a delightful performer with a beautifully clear voice , superb lyrics and a real knack for writing catchy tunes. I wish her every success with her new EP , her first release after 4 years of performing.

Headlining the evening was Silent Sleep ,the creation of Liverpudlian songwriter/ multi-instrumentalist/ producer Chris McIntosh. Chris moved to Berlin in 2010 ,playing in cafes but returned to Liverpool to record his lovely orchestral chamber-pop album "Walk Me To The Sea" with a group of friends. Indeed, Chris usually plays with a band ,so tonight's solo gig was something of a rarity.

Chris's songs are heartfelt and honest; he is not afraid to lay bare his emotions but does so without self pity. His songs cover difficult subjects, such as his separation from his father ["How Can It Be Like This" and "Once Or Twice"] ; domestic troubles ["I Wish It Could Be Different"] ; saying sorry to his Mum ["On The Steps Of The Bombed-Out Church"]; and the self-evident "Love Never Lasts" [played on piano ,rather than guitar. Whilst these may seem to be "heavy" subjects , Chris performs them in such a warm and engaging way that they are uplifting ,rather than negative. Light relief was ,however, provided by Chris's well-deserved encore , an incredible version of Gary Barlow's Take That hit "Back For Good" ,which brought the house down.

In summary, another exceptional evening at Liverpool Acoustic with 3 very different but wonderfully talented songwriters. Superb.

Peter Cowley

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Vanessa Murray - It's About Time EP Teaser

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