Live Review Archive | 2015

Live Reviews | 2015

Blood and Roses: The songs of Ewan MacColl. The Barbican, London, 9th November 2015

Blood and Roses: The songs of Ewan MacColl. The Barbican, London, 9th November 2015
Blood and Roses: The songs of Ewan MacColl was a special event arranged to celebrate Ewan MacColl's songwriting on the centenary of his birth. It promised a rich variety of song, and a rich variety of singers and performers - with familial connections at its heart - so as well as lead singers generations of MacColls also made up the band, there was a smattering of Carthys (unfortunately Norma Waterson was too ill to attend),…
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Wizz Jones, Baldock and Letchworth Blues,Folk and Roots Club, Baldock, 14th October 2015

Wizz Jones, Baldock and Letchworth Blues,Folk and Roots Club, Baldock, 14th October 2015
I almost gave up and went home again - I was struggling to find parking and, aware of the smallness of the venue - a side room off the bar in the Orange Tree pub - was not unnaturally concerned that I'd be turned away on the door due to the club having reached capacity. The foreboding only became more concrete as I hurried down dimly lit backstreets as the rain started up again -…
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King Creosote, The Barbican, London, 10th October 2015

King Creosote at The Barbican
You never really know what to expect from King Creosote until you get there - it might be just Kenny Anderson with guitar and accordion, it might be him and a couple of sidekicks. Or, as it was tonight, it might be an eight piece band giving it their all in full rock band with string section mode. First though there was an entrancing thirty minutes or so in the company of Sam Lee and…
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Tom Russell, The 100 Club, London, 1st October 2015

Tom Russell, The 100 Club, London, 1st October 2015
Where but the legendary 100 Club would be more appropriate for the legendary Tom Russell to play for the London gig of his recent UK tour? Nowhere - as Tom Russell was the first to declare: they'd offered him theatres, but what, he asked, is a sit-down audience compared to a crowd that are happy to stand for a couple of hours? Ah - he knows us so well. He's also well aware of the…
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Americana Music Association Awards, Nashville, September 2015

Americana Music Association Awards, Nashville, September 2015
Nashville, baby!! Music City twinkles in the distance as my packed United Airlines jet sets down on the tarmac of the International airport on the outskirts of town. I pinch myself again as I have been doing since I left Brighton on a wet and windy morning of what feels about a week ago. Am I really here? Am I really in the country roots mecca for the next week? You betcha….The AMAs, the real…
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Crosby Stills & Nash, Hammersmith Apollo, London, 13th September 2015

Crosby Stills & Nash, Hammersmith Apollo, London, 13th September 2015
Hammersmith Apollo - or as Crosby would wryly observe later on "this looks just like Hammersmith Odeon, doesn't it?" - was buzzing with the excitement of those who've been long-time followers of the band, and also a surprisingly large number of those who must have come to the band quite recently. And on a stage liberally spread with Persian carpets the three indefatigable artists took their places to a hero's welcome - Stills on the…
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The Delines + Charlie Tophill, The Duchess, York. 7th September 2015

The Delines + Charlie Tophill, The Duchess, York.  7th September 2015
You always feel like a mole at The Duchess, and you’d have to be a pretty down at heel member of the aristocracy to get stuck in a former snooker hall converted to a live venue with liberal use of black emulsion. This subterranean bunker has a smell, maybe something died, but it’s a less than auspicious start to something super.The mood if not the lighting is lightened with one of my favourite local support…
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Andrew Coombs + Laura Oakes, Fox & Newt, Leeds. 12th September 2015

Andrew Coombs + Laura Oakes, Fox & Newt, Leeds. 12th September 2015
There is a double annoyance at tonights gig, firstly that Barna Howard isn’t the support, he opted for a chat on 6 Music with Cerys Mathews, and secondly his replacement, the very terrific Laura Oakes (nominated several times at the the BCMA’s) was missed by me. Oakes has a terrific voice and is certainly one of our best and beguiling performers.It’s vintage ago-go tonight from the main man, Andrew Coombs, nice yolked green shirt and…
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The Wynntown Marshals + Ten Gallon Bratz, Stereo Cafe Bar, Glasgow. 18th September 2015

The Wynntown Marshals + Ten Gallon Bratz, Stereo Cafe Bar, Glasgow. 18th September 2015
Drawing a curtain on the tour celebrating the release of their latest long player, The End Of The Golden Age, The Wynntown Marshals descended on Glasgow's Stereo basement venue like conquering heroes; they may be from the East Coast but they have a fiercely loyal fan base amongst what Edinburgh folk like to call Weegies. Anyway, buoyed up and supremely confidant, the five piece band proceeded to kick ass (I believe the correct terminology) with…
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Eric Andersen, The Green Note, London, 2nd September 2015

Eric Andersen, The Green Note, London, 2nd September 2015
They'd even said at the door that there was a support, so when it had rolled past eight and only Eric Andersen and his duo of backing players - Michele Gazich on violin and Giorgio Curcetti on Oud - were busily checking levels and cables and generally fussing around the stage area in quite a nervous fashion it became clear that there was no opening artist after all. Bad news for those who were timing…
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Willard Grant Conspiracy + Sister Fox + Big Hogg, The Glad Cafe, Glasgow. Thursday 10th September 2015

Willard Grant Conspiracy + Sister Fox + Big Hogg, The Glad Cafe, Glasgow. Thursday 10th September 2015
A welcome return to Glasgow for Willard Grant Conspiracy who opened their short UK tour here on Thursday night at the south side's Glad Cafe. A trio on this occasion (mainstay Robert Fisher accompanied by David Michael Curry on viola and an array of effects pedals and Jonah Sacks, electric cello) there was no new album to promote although two new songs surfaced on the 'net just days before. Tonight then was an opportunity for…
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Curtis Eller and his ‘American Circus’, Harrogate Blues Bar, Harrogate, 4th August 2015

Curtis Eller and his ‘American Circus’, Harrogate Blues Bar, Harrogate, 4th August 2015
New look line-up is the same old Curtis. It’s fair to say that Curtis gets more than his fair share of good press on AUK, but then if you are this good – you will. Eller’s two month sojourn to the UK, along with the American Circus’ every changing role call is itself a feat, let alone his fascination with playing the banjo on one leg.All the usual stuff, the leaping, the climbing, the gurning…
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Sturgill Simpson + Joe Pug, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 19th August 2015

Sturgill Simpson + Joe Pug, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 19th August 2015
Joe Pug’s latest Windfall is one of the best albums of the last 12 months. No conjecture, fact, listen to it. Tonight he is the best opener, for what has become one of the most hyped gigs of the year. He’s quality, Austin TX, has a habit of turning them out that way. He’s affable, and not without humour, apparent the album is online for £2, and when confronted at the merch stand for charging…
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Sturgill Simpson + Joe Pug, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 19th August 2015

Sturgill Simpson + Joe Pug, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 19th August 2015
Joe Pug’s latest Windfall is one of the best albums of the last 12 months. No conjecture, fact, listen to it. Tonight he is the best opener, for what has become one of the most hyped gigs of the year. He’s quality, Austin TX, has a habit of turning them out that way. He’s affable, and not without humour, apparent the album is online for £2, and when confronted at the merch stand for charging…
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The Bluebird at the Bluecoat, Liverpool, Saturday 29th August 2015

The Bluebird at the Bluecoat, Liverpool, Saturday 29th August 2015
The Bluebird café in Nashville should be familiar to anyone with a vague interest in country music, particularly now it features regularly in ABC's television series named after the city, shown on Channel 4 in the UK. The Bluebird at the Bluecoat is its first venture on to English shores, recreating the intimacy of the set up in the setting of Liverpool's Bluecoat gallery, the brainchild of Monkey Mind Productions' Emma Jane who previously lived…
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Jace Everett + Pauper Kings Fulford Arms, York, 30th June 2015

Jace Everett + Pauper Kings Fulford Arms, York, 30th June 2015
Crammed in to a sweat pub, on the hottest day of the year this is just the way to see this sort of music, openers the Pauper Kings are no strangers to the States and Nashville and it shows with covers from the Dixie Chicks and Keith Urban. They are a proper new style country band, this is their triumphant return to their home town, and you can’t beat a US voice when singing and…
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Jace Everett + Pauper Kings Fulford Arms, York, 30th June 2015

Jace Everett + Pauper Kings Fulford Arms, York, 30th June 2015
Crammed in to a sweat pub, on the hottest day of the year this is just the way to see this sort of music, openers the Pauper Kings are no strangers to the States and Nashville and it shows with covers from the Dixie Chicks and Keith Urban. They are a proper new style country band, this is their triumphant return to their home town, and you can’t beat a US voice when singing and…
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Jolie Holland, Basement Bar, York, 15th July 2015

Jolie Holland, Basement Bar, York, 15th July 2015
Tonight’s full house are treated to a sit down, relaxed, chilled out performance, Jolie Holland is oozing professionalism, she’s sassy and in an ebullient mood. Partner Stevie, speaks mostly through his fret board as we commence and his hunters hat pull down, with his luxuriate beard has something of the backwoods about him. I love her erudite Texas drawl, now a resident of California, the sunshine seems to have brighten her demour. She’s so relaxed,…
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Polly & the Billets Doux + Bramble Knapskins, York, Basement Bar, 2nd June 2015

Polly & the Billets Doux + Bramble Knapskins, York, Basement Bar, 2nd June 2015
Openers Bramble Knapskins are full of that youthful vigour and exude confidence that the young do, with a squeezebox, double bass, sax, acoustic and drums + female vocal they are certainly unconventional. It’s all too much, bar the kitchen sink they through everything at everything. The producer of the forthcoming works will need to be at the top of their game, what it gives with it breezy air of confidence, it takes away with its…
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Ryan Boldt + Kacy & Clayton + Sam Griffths, York Basement Bar, York, 29th April 2015

Ryan Boldt + Kacy & Clayton + Sam Griffths, York Basement Bar, York, 29th April 2015
Local support Sam Griffths is more than able, his guitar & double bass combo are full of youthful vigour and he’s that very earnest singer/songwriter type that is so cool again. He’s full of student tales and an over enthusiastic girlfriend whooping from the sidelines – ah young love.Kacy & Clayton, are a whole other proposition, the sort of cool that doesn’t try, finger picking to a sweet girl vocal, they are from the fringes,…
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Pokey LaFarge + Daniel Meade, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 22nd May 2015

Pokey LaFarge + Daniel Meade, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 22nd May 2015
Opener Meade, 4 piece band, double bass, banjo, acoustic guitar and brushed drums, it’s a terrific 50’s shuffles. Vintage guitars, with nifty wandering, walked up fret board style solos, all in a Mountie style hat.If there is a better dressed man in music man right now, I’ll go out and buy a hat to eat. Tonight Pokey LaFarge is in a splendid bow tie and Stetson combo for his third visit to this venue (and…
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Cale Tyson with Pete Lindberg + Charlie Tophill, York Basement Bar, York 5th May 2015

Cale Tyson with Pete Lindberg + Charlie Tophill, York Basement Bar, York 5th May 2015
Opener Charlie Tophill reminds me of an acoustic Betty & the Werewolves, a cheeky glint in her eye. Her sparsely played, delicate acoustic music is heavily reminiscent of Laura Viers or Devon Sproule, in a Deal accent. She has a very fine take on New York erudite folk, in a very English style. She’s a Dawn Landes or Hem, and her debut record should be terrific, I can’t wait. With tales of finding her first…
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Sonia Leigh, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 13th April 2015

Sonia Leigh, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 13th April 2015
It appears to be Nashville night in Leeds with 3 of the UK’s premier exponents of ‘big hat country’ circling their wagons in town as the warm up to country queen got Rock Sonia Leigh. The first two are just a little too tame for me and lacking in material. Undoubtedly they have the looks for music row, both need a guitar player and “the Voice” winner Emma Jade Garbutt and Laura Oakes just lack…
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Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, Union Chapel, London, 14th July 2015

Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham - Union Chapel, London
The careers of Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham are as closely intertwined with what we like to call Americana as they are with Muscle Shoals, the Fame Studio, and a deep soulful blues perhaps best represented by the recordings of Aretha Franklin, amongst other such luminaries as Otis Redding and Percy Sledge. Aretha's take on their song Do Right Woman Do Right Man was a classic that could hold its head high in the exalted…
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Larkin Poe, The 100 Club, London, 1st July 2015

Larkin Poe, The 100 Club, London, 1st July 2015
Not just the hottest day of the year, this was the hottest July day on record - so after the sauna like conditions of the Underground the 100 Club's air conditioning was more than welcome. The main attraction was Larkin Poe, kicking off their own tour having just completed the support slot for Elvis Costello. Larkin Poe are sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell, Megan plays lap steel through a small array of effects boxes whilst…
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Suzanne Vega, Cadogan Hall, London 19th June 2015

Suzanne Vega, Cadogan Hall, London 19th June 2015
Another night, another church - Suzanne Vega had played the Union Chapel on the previous evening, now it was the turn of the plusher appointed Cadogan hall. The stage was relatively sparse with just a pair of guitars for Vega and ace lead guitarist Gerry Leonard's compact array of boxes and pedals. Having greeted the audience the elfin Vega launched proceedings with Fat Man & Dancing Girl, a song which, like so many of Suzanne…
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Giant3 Sand, The Union Chapel, London, 2nd June 2015

Giant3 Sand, The Union Chapel, London, 2nd June 2015
It's never just another gig with Howe Gelb, and this very special evening organised by The Barbican is no exception to that rule. At the heart of it all is Gelb and his Giant3 Sand - Giant Sand with a lot of extra musicians such as Maggie Bjorklund on pedal steel. On top of this there are two generous side servings in the form of The Psycho Sisters and the country pop of Amsterdam's The…
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Eliza Carthy & Tim Eriksen, St. Pancras Old Church, London, 29th May 2015

Eliza Carthy & Tim Eriksen, St. Pancras Old Church, London, 29th May 2015
Eliza Carthy and Tim Eriksen have been touring in support of their new album, Bottle, a duo album that blends quite perfectly Tim's roughened singing and apocalyptic electric guitar with Eliza's robust and powerful vocals and impeccably perfect fiddle playing. This gig was held at an oasis of quiet at the back of one of London's busiest rail terminals - set in a small park St. Pancras Old Church is a miniature wonder in itself.…
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Thea Gilmore, Cadogan Hall, London, 27th May 2015

Thea Gilmore, Cadogan Hall, London, 27th May 2015
We were too quiet. Opener Jo Rose mentioned it. Thea Gilmore mentioned it. It turned out that it was going to be difficult to get much of a sing-a-long going, even on the easiest "na-na-na" chorus. As Thea Gilmore noted though, this wasn't just London - it was Sloane Square. This was also the last night of the tour and you couldn't ask for a finer building to wind-up in; Cadogan Hall was built as…
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Ralph Mctell, The Stables, Wavendon 18th May 2015

Ralph Mctell, The Stables, Wavendon 18th May 2015
A face on the music scene for fifty years or so, Ralph McTell seems to have discovered the secret of, if not youth itself at least reaching a certain age and just stopping there. His singing is still distinct and strong - although he claims to have changed key on a few songs as he can't reach the high notes anymore - his finger picked guitar picking is still precise and inventive - and he…
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Tom Paxton, The Stables, Wavendon, 22nd May 2015

Tom Paxton, The Stables, Wavendon, 22nd May 2015
It's been a long road from there to here, with ups and downs along the way but Tom Paxton has been a figure on the ever changing folk music scene in six decades, he's written any number of standards and Robin Bullock's introduction of him at the start of the evening listed just some of the many awards he has been given including lifetime achievement nods from both the Grammys and the UK Parliament’s All…
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Dawn Landes, Fibbers, York, 13th January 2015

Dawn Landes, Fibbers, York, 13th January 2015
I was honoured to have a few minutes with Ms Landes pre soundcheck and as a long time fan I was giddy with anticipation for the gig ahead. All in black and with her beautiful Kentucky vowels Landes was greeted by a small but erudite attentive crowd at ‘new’ Fibbers. Her mix of country folk interwoven with tales of Tony Julian Moore films, a love of Bakelite jewellery is effortless, and we’re collectively charmed. Her…
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Dan Webster / Gracie Falls / Drew Stephenson, Black Swan, York, 13th March 2015

Dan Webster
There is feeling of starting out about tonight, high quality, yet to be established song writers, sure in their craft, distinctly different, but similar in ilk. It is only an assured performer that is comfortable in this tricky format to pull off, but my favourite way to see the songwriter splay open their portfolio – the “in the round”. It’s the other artist that can’t help themselves while somebody else is playing, with a bit…
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Neil Halstead / Peter Bruntnell /Danny George Wilson, Korks Winebar, Otley 13th February 2015

Neil Halstead / Pete Bruntnell /Danny George Wilson
Never been here before, it’s the back room of a wine bar (posh pub) in this posh bit of Leeds suburbs, it’s a big room, and has an arts centre feel, importantly, it’s my favourite way to see singer / songwriters – in the round. Danny opens, his cheeky chappie persona lightens the mood, he is the nail on which the evening is hung, Pete is next, serious, dishevelled, his hush voice brings a calm…
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Ward Thomas / Jessica Ridley / Noah Cloud - York Fibbers, 29th March 2015

Jessica Ridley
Show opener, hip student type, Noah Cloud is one to watch, emotional acoustic singer songwriter stuff, very cool, very of the moment. There is something honest and refreshing about this resurgence - of the performer armed only with a guitar and a tune, Noah is obviously one of the better ones. Jessica Ridley, secretly Canadian, an interloper, eeking a living on the Nashville tourist strip, a resident act who got lucky, and sharing a producer…
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SXSW 2015

SXSW 2015
The search for cool Americana acts was aided by the fact that this year’s sxsw turned out to be a lower-key event. The corporate nature and overcrowding of 2014’s festival, plus the tragic car crash that cast a shadow over it, led organisers to scale back a little. This, plus the uncharacteristically poor weather, made scouting for the best bands a little easier than usual.
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Sam Lee & Friends, with special guests, Westminster Quaker Meeting House, London, 20th March 2015

Sam Lee & Friends, with special guests, Westminster Quaker Meeting House, London, 20th March 2015
The Westminster Quaker Meeting House shouldn't be all that difficult to find, with its main entrance on St Martin's Lane - yet it took a number of circuits of the surrounding back alleys to eventually locate. Alleys which seem like a step back in time to a Victorian cityscape that sometimes even seasoned ex-Londoners forget are there. Then with a couple of steps it's back into the heart of modern London. Which is really very…
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Pharis & Jason Romero, Green Note, London, 12th February 2015

Pharis & Jason Romero, Green Note, London, 12th February 2015
Let's get this straight - it's only fair that I should mention this from the outset - this is not going to be a coy or tentative review. There will be fulsome praise and if it seems at times to go too far, to be quite simply too good to be true - then take my word for it, it's true. When A Passing Glimpse, Pharis & Jason's first album came my way in 2011…
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Justin Townes Earle (support from Andrew Combs), Union Chapel, London, 6th February 2015

Justin Townes Earle (support from Andrew Combs), Union Chapel, London, 6th February 2015
The darkened hallowed Union Chapel was pretty full soon after doors opened; such is the draw of Justin Townes Earle. And darkened is the apposite word - when your reporter blundered through the semi-gloom in one of the Union Chapel's yards he found, not what he was looking for but instead the artist's smoking area, and hailing Justin Townes Earle with the ever appropriate "Ah - it's you" he was, thankfully, not busted and formally…
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Brandi Carlile, The Union Chapel, London, 12th February 2015

Brandi Carlile, The Union Chapel, London, 12th February 2015
A ‘Pin Drop Show’, so called because the band is completely PA free and the audience needs to be so quiet that you can hear one. I wanted to see, sorry, hear, if this was possible but I then remembered that my shirt buying has changed over the years and the M&S easy care variety (pack of three, less than twenty quid) come with little plastic clips now. I don’t think you could though, the…
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Justin Townes Earle + Andrew Combs, Jumping Hot Club, Caedmon Hall, Gateshead, 18th January 2015

Justin Townes Earle + Andrew Combs, Jumping Hot Club, Caedmon Hall, Gateshead, 18th January 2015
Tonight’s gig was something of a “double header” with support act, Andrew Combs debut album picking up some astonishing reviews in the preceding week, which meant that the Caedmon Hall was already nearly full as the handsome, foppish haired singer-songwriter walked on stage. Opening his set with Motel Rain from the album All These Dreams, Combs’ warm voice and delivery immediately had many in the audience nodding and smiling in agreement as they witnessed something…
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Nils Lofgren, Sage, Gateshead, 22nd February 2015

Nils Lofgren, Sage, Gateshead, 22nd February 2015
Even though I knew next to nothing about his solo career, I was still quite excited when offered the opportunity to see Nils Lofgren in concert and my naïve optimism was instantly rewarded by the bucket load when I saw the ‘house fill’ signs at Sage Gateshead. It’s quite a large stage at this venue and the minimalist set up looked a bit lost at first, but once the legendary guitarist, resplendent in top hat…
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King Creosote, Revelation St Mary’s Church, Ashford, Friday 30 January 2015

King Creosote, Revelation St Mary’s Church, Ashford, Friday 30 January 2015
King Creosote (Kenny Anderson) hails from Fife, Scotland. As a singer/songwriter, he is incredibly prolific, self-releasing over forty albums to date on his living room label, Fence Records. His self-aware style should be a perfect pairing for this most intimate of venues. On the compact stage is an eight piece band, comprising Anderson on acoustic, electric guitar, double bass, cello, fiddle, keys, drums and backing vocals. The backing vocalist Amy MacDougall comes armed with a…
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Cahalen Morrison and Eli West, Baldock & Letchworth Folk Club at The Orange Tree Baldock, 14th January 2015

Cahalen Morrison and Eli West, Baldock & Letchworth Folk Club at The Orange Tree Baldock, 14th January 2015
Seattle's finest exponents of mandolin and guitar based old-timey styles with a contemporary take must have felt right at home in cold, blustery and rain lashed Baldock. The Orange Tree pub boasts a fine music room where the Baldock and Letchworth Blues, Folk and Roots Club - to, just the once, give its full name – meets. On this night it was packed out with an appreciative audience happy to chat to the head-liners between…
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Nils Lofgren, The Stables, Wavendon, 8th January 2015

Nils Lofgren, The Stables, Wavendon, 8th January 2015
It's obviously going to be a sold out house when The Stables' staff are directing people to double park - and there were significantly more people standing at the back than is normal for this venue. Such is the draw of Nils Lofgren, kicking off his first UK tour for at least three years with a night at the smallest venue on this series of dates. You may have heard that this is an acoustic…
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