Live Review Archive | 2013

Live Reviews | 2013

americanaUK Live Reviews | Editor John Hawes


Jesse Malin - York Fibbers, 27th November 2014

Jesse Malin - York Fibbers, 27th November 2014
He’s everything you wanted to be when you were growing up like me in the 70’s, cool, so cool, so New York. In my head if I had to make an image of Queens, of New York, Malin is it, one minute coarse, rough, the next refined, complex and frightening intellectual. Tonight he’s surround by a mix of both, the dangerous and the bookish, a band so tight you’re left wondering why the fuss over…
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Bob Dylan, Royal Albert Hall, London, 28th November 2013

Regular readers of Americana-UK's forums will already be aware that, barring a miracle, the set list for the three nights at the Royal Albert Hall was, in an expectations defying way, already carved in stone. Maybe it's a sign of Bob Dylan getting a bit older but he has, with just a couple of notable exceptions, stuck pretty much to the same set of songs for this leg of his European tour. And if that…
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Billy Bragg + Kim Churchill, Leeds, Leeds Town Hall, 25th November 2013

Billy Bragg + Kim Churchill, Leeds, Leeds Town Hall, 25th November 2013
This is a big room, and Kim Churchill with his blasted kick drum and cacophony of noise is not welcome, think the FBU and the Socialist Workers paper sellers outside are all the warm-up we need.Its 30 years since Billy Bragg set out on this road, and plenty of his accumulated set from then to now is scattered here, alongside his Nashville ‘love album’ Tooth and Nail. The thing with Billy is, he has melded…
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Danny and the Champions of the World, Pivo Pivo, Glasgow, Wednesday 20th November 2013

Danny and the Champions of the World, Pivo Pivo, Glasgow, Wednesday 20th November 2013
This breathlessly bright performance is still bringing a smile to my face as I write – to say it was terrific is an understatement.The crowd was on its feet two songs in and stayed in buoyant mood till Danny and The Champions of the World brought a quite glorious set to a close. Spotting influences at any gig is fun but the phrase “mini E-Street Band” would not leave my mind as songs melted into…
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Jason Isbell + Amanda Shires, King Tuts, Glasgow, Friday 22nd November 2013

Jason Isbell + Amanda Shires, King Tuts, Glasgow, Friday 22nd November 2013
Jason Isbell writes sad or semi sad songs – that’s the way he likes it. And so did a sell-out crowd at this wonderful performance with the guitarist supported by the loving violin work of his other half, Amanda Shires.Truth be told, his lyrics really hit home with me here, having escaped the raucous clutches of the Drive by Truckers and his current band, The 400 Unit. Nothing against either outfit, far from it, as…
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Josh Ritter + Tift Merritt, The Barbican, London, 10th November 2013

Josh Ritter + Tift Merritt, The Barbican, London, 10th November 2013
Tift Merritt, I have to confess, was a name that I knew but without any connection to her music - well, there are a lot of albums to listen to these days. Thankfully that ignorance on my part has now been cured. Southern gal’ Tift Merritt has a very special voice - big and full of emotion - which is coupled with songs that stab with the personal. In her short set she delivered these…
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Phosphorescent + Caveman, The Junction, Cambridge, 12th November 2013

Phosphorescent + Caveman, The Junction, Cambridge, 12th November 2013
Brooklyn’s Caveman opened the proceedings with a sound balanced somewhere between garage rock and a more sophisticated noise built up jointly by strident guitar and swelling waves escaping from the bank of keyboards. Caveman's lead singer Matthew Iwanusa also alternates between playing rhythm guitar and beating out time on a single standing drum which is certainly visually engaging and seems to be an increasingly popular thing to do. On the few songs in their set…
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Cam Penner and Jon Wood, Blackfriars, Glasgow, 15th November 2013

Cam Penner and Jon Wood, Blackfriars, Glasgow, 15th November 2013
Drinkers in fancy dress crowded the upstairs bar but below street level Cam Penner had no need to be anything other than himself with his unswerving ability to perform quite beautifully through cogent lyrics and gorgeously understated melodies. He played with such commitment and pleasure that this superb gig never dipped below the magical level.Burly and bearded, the wood dweller with real presence sings with tenderness and poise, from a raw bellow to breathless whispers…
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Pokey Lafarge + The Tillers, Classic Grand, Glasgow, Wednesday 6th November 2013

Pokey Lafarge + The Tillers, Classic Grand, Glasgow, Wednesday 6th November 2013
A welcome return to Glasgow for St. Louis's finest still drawing impressive crowds after their brief moment of fame on Jools Holland's Hootenanny a few years back. Pokey LaFarge and The South City Three (expanded recently to five with the addition of a two piece horn section) are a huge draw in Glasgow although it has to be said that their relentless touring seems to be paying off in all corners of the globe as…
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Slaid Cleaves, Hitchin Folk Club, Hitchin, 6th October 2013

Slaid Cleaves, Hitchin Folk Club, Hitchin, 6th October 2013
It had been, as we were reminded several times, a long time since Slaid Cleaves had last played at the Hitchin Folk Club – seven years was finally agreed on. At that time he was touring the Unsung album of songs by artists and songwriters he knew and admired. Several of those would make a reappearance on this night, but the first of two “long hour sets” was built around the excellent new album Still…
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Eric Bibb, The Stables, Wavendon, 22nd October 2013

Eric Bibb, The Stables, Wavendon, 22nd October 2013
Eric Bibb can sell out a venue this size very easily - and it's knowing that he could still do so if he chose to play rooms double the size or more which makes it that much more of a pleasure to still be able to see him play in what is a relatively small theatre. Last time I caught him - at the same venue, he was touring with one backup player, tonight is…
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Willard Grant Conspiracy, Broadcast, 22nd October, 2013

Willard Grant Conspiracy, Broadcast, 22nd October, 2013
Intense and brooding, fiery and calm, sparse but warm – the changing moods and tones of the Willard Grant Conspiracy musical catalogue embraces and captures an audience, and so it was at this show in the heart of Glasgow, thousands of miles from Robert Fisher’s High Sierra desert home in California.Seated with viola player and long-time WGC compadre, David Michael Curry to his left and a film show playing over his right shoulder, Fisher induces…
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My Darling Clementine, Dingwalls, London, 1st October 2013

My Darling Clementine, Dingwalls, London, 1st October 2013
It was the second anniversary that relatives and friends thought that they might never see. The celebration of the second album in a project that, like many love affairs, was a slow burner. Now, though, My Darling Clementine are a serious unit with many happy years ahead of them.And the party was a good one. This launch show for the second album by husband and wife team Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish as My…
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Devon Sproule, The Stables, Wavendon, 13th October 2013

Devon Sproule, The Stables, Wavendon, 13th October 2013
Ok, let's get the bad bit out of the way. Yes, it was a dark and dirty night in a bleak mid-October. Yes, that night was a Sunday night and no doubt all sorts of really important talent shows were on the television. None of that, though, excuses a turnout of less than a hundred. The Stables has never felt emptier. I was half amazed they didn't just blow the gig.As it turned out the…
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Eef Barzelay, Partick Bowling Club, Glasgow, 14th October, 2013

Eef Barzelay, Partick Bowling Club, Glasgow, 14th October, 2013
I once delayed a holiday by 24 hours to catch Clem Snide in Glasgow a few years ago – I really rate very highly the musical works of that band’s main man, Eef Barzelay, so missing him wasn’t an option.He is simply terrific and it is a mystery, and I bet he’s fed up hearing this, that he is not better known with more folk tuned into his astonishing output. He is a romantic, a…
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ahab, Nice'N'Sleazy, Glasgow, 13th October 2013

ahab,  Nice'N'Sleazy, Glasgow, 13th October 2013
First time in Glasgow for ahab but someone had obviously been spreading the word about them as the cellar at Nice'N'Sleazy's was pretty full with folk who seemed well acquainted with the band and their songs. Halfway through a round Britain jaunt and with a new album in the works the bearded five piece lived up to the audience's expectations with an excellent show that ranged from intimate acoustic ballads with their fine harmonies well…
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Crosby, Stills & Nash, Royal Albert Hall, London, 8th October 2013

Crosby, Stills & Nash, Royal Albert Hall, London, 8th October 2013
From the first note of Carry On there was a sense that this was going to be something special. With their intertwined logo projected over their heads Crosby, Stills & Nash seemed utterly at home in a hall that they have indeed over recent years come to make their own. Crosby, his greying mane of hair often shining in the back light, and the ever youthful Nash stood to stage left on a vast Persian…
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Bright Phoebus Revisited, The Barbican, London, 11th October 2013

Bright Phoebus Revisited, The Barbican, London, 11th October 2013
There are a lot of “lost classics”, and many of them have strange tales attached to them. Then when they reappear they often aren’t as good as reputation would have them be. Bright Phoebus, the creation of brother and sister Mike and Lal Waterson, is one of the exceptions – a lost classic that is both a true work of merit and has managed to remain obscurely un-re-released. Recorded on the Trailer label alongside many…
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Chains, York House Concert, 28th September 2013

Chains are one of those bands who you should hate, beautiful on the eye and ear, they have everything, charm, wit, and a rapour with the audience that seasoned professionals would weep for. They are so engaging, the set is full of cheeky winks, effortless banter and an assuredness that says yeah they have done this a lot before, but they love it, each other, sharing it with you and that this is a very…
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Al Stewart, The Stables, Wavendon, 9th October 2013

Al Stewart, The Stables, Wavendon, 9th October 2013
Billed as an acoustic evening with Al Stewart, this was a sell-out, with that rarity at The Stables of standing in the balcony. An evening of two sets with the same structure – four songs from support guitarist David Nachmanoff, who is an engaging and lively singer and a versatile guitarist – and then the main man for about forty minutes. The puzzle of the third microphone on the otherwise bare stage was explained later…
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GLASGOW AMERICANA FESTIVAL: GRAM PARSONS’ TRIBUTE, COTTIER’S, GLASGOW, 6th OCTOBER, 2013

GLASGOW AMERICANA FESTIVAL: GRAM PARSONS’ TRIBUTE, COTTIER’S, GLASGOW, 6th OCTOBER, 2013
He may only have been 26 years of age when he died 40 years ago this year, but what a fabulous songbook cosmic cowboy, the man in the nudie suit, Gram Parsons left behind.The Grievous Angel’s music was celebrated in fine style at a sell-out Glasgow Americana Festival heartfelt tribute night, the final show of the five-day 2013 Festival, too – doing a couple of ‘Grams’ on stage took on a whole new meaning here.Curated…
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Israel Nash Gripka, 02 ABC, Glasgow, 2nd October, 2013

Israel Nash Gripka, 02 ABC, Glasgow, 2nd October, 2013
At last it opened and we were all mightily glad – and, no, I’m not referring to the new £125 million ‘music colosseum’ venue in the city where Rod the Mod and Fleetwood Mac are now appearing before the masses at huge expense.Nope, I’m reporting that the seventh Glasgow Americana Festival – promoted by the peerless Fallen Angels Club – is now gleefully under way with Israel Nash Gripka and his four-strong, storming band putting…
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Dave Swarbrick & Martin Carthy, Junction 2, Cambridge, 16th September 2013

taken at Cambridge Folk Festival 2013
Their combined ages make for one gross, and their combined years as active folk musicians would have earned them a telegram from the queen; by any measure Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick are amongst the longest serving and the most prolific exponents of English folk music and music rooted in the tradition. Their performances as a duo go back to their earliest recordings and that shines through when they play together, they spark off each…
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Sam Baker, St Andrews in the Square, Glasgow, 5th September, 2013

Sam Baker, St Andrews in the Square, Glasgow, 5th September, 2013
Whether he’s sharing songs about “a straight haired girl in a house full of curls” or the truly, aching, lump-in-the-throat tale of a man who writes the love of his life’s name after 50 years of unimaginable togetherness in the sand, only for the waves “to wash them away,” Sam Baker is a wonderfully, mesmerising performer."Isn’t love great, isn’t love grand" sang the craggy, bespectacled one in a former church, right beneath a twisting wooden…
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Carrie Rodriguez + The Jaywalkers + Grateful Fred's, Formby Sports and Social Club, Formby, 5th September 2013

Carrie Rodriguez + The Jaywalkers + Grateful Fred's, Formby Sports and Social Club, Formby, 5th September 2013
Under a threatening sky and with a venue more accustomed to wedding anniversaries and christenings than Americana, the audience gathers for the evening ahead. The music starts off with a set from the house band, Grateful Fred’s, albeit a slimmed down version due to holiday absenteeism. Local bluegrass band, The Jaywalkers, is up next setting the scene for Carrie Rodriguez’s entrance. Carrie graces the stage in a bright green dress contrasting with the low key…
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Various artists, For The Sake of The Song: No Mean City Festival, 02ABC / Broadcast, Glasgow, 31st August 2013.

Various artists, For The Sake of The Song: No Mean City Festival, 02ABC / Broadcast, Glasgow, 31st August 2013.
The sun was shining at 2pm as this day long curtain raiser for The No Mean City Americana festival kicked off. For some of us it was the last we'd see of it that day as the labyrinthine darkness of the 02ABC enveloped us with folk stumbling around in the dark feeling for steps and seats with their feet. The sole source of light was the stage which was set for a sequence of 11…
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Lucinda Williams, Concert Hall, Perth, 21st June 2013

Lucinda Williams, Concert Hall, Perth, 21st June 2013
With songs like Drunken Angel, Lake Charles, Essence, Blessed and Those Three Days all in the mix the quality of this sparkling show was guaranteed. And Lucinda Williams has rarely been in better voice.Flanked by ace guitarist, Doug Pettibone and the excellent David Sutton on bass, she oozed through a set veering from roadhouse blues and swamp-stained rock to heartfelt tales of grief and loss, hallmarks of her career these past three decades. Again, she…
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PATTY GRIFFIN, SUMMERTYNE AMERICANA FESTIVAL, SAGE GATESHEAD, 19th July 2013

PATTY GRIFFIN, SUMMERTYNE AMERICANA FESTIVAL, SAGE GATESHEAD, 19th July 2013
Opening night, closing act, critically acclaimed American singer-songwriter, Patty Griffin could not have been made to feel more at home than when she walked on stage. The audience were in for a treat the moment Maine-raised, Texas-based act and genial accompanying acoustic guitarist David Puckingham struck up. For not only did she encore with Come Home To Me but the plucky Griffin also shoehorned more songs than anticipated into her act. It was edge of…
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Polly & the Billets Doux + Dan Webster & Rachel Brown, York City Screen, York, 25th July 2013

Polly & the Billets Doux + Dan Webster & Rachel Brown, York City Screen, York, 25th July 2013
Two bands for a fiver, what more could you want especially when they are as good as this, proper Yorkshire pricing. Show opens Dan Webster and Racheal Brown are a great appetiser, their acoustic guitar/cello mix are great, powerful, classy and it’s a great act. Brown’s cello, and her flawless playing do add a real touch of finesse to Webster’s singer/songwriter schtich, it’s a hybrid of Damien Rice, Seth Lakeman and Tom McRae, nothing really…
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Trembling Bells and Mike Heron, The Stables, Wavedon, 17th July 2013

Trembling Bells and Mike Heron, The Stables, Wavedon, 17th July 2013
I had a dream, a trifle of a fancy, that a fine folk-rock band, steeped in the legacy of those great bands who had gone before them, had joined forces with a wise and powerful singer of songs that connected every atom in his body with the external universe. And in this dream they capered and played songs auld and new, and all their merry-making and music was just for me. And then I realised…
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Ethan Johns - Basement Bar, York (support Bosscaine) 16th July 2013

Ethan Johns
Openers Bosscaine are well known in these parts, and I guess a bit wider after the recent Bob Harris session. Fronted by a man looks like he has Strongbow on his Shreddies, and the voice matches, it’s just the main guy tonight. It’s a samey blast of troubadour Anglicana, from someone who is obviously a big fan of Earle, Adams, Waits etc. It’s a set of grimy songs of the parochial artist, fighting to find…
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The Wynntown Marshals / Monica Queen & Johnny Smillie. Broadcast, Glasgow - 12th July 2012

The Wynntown Marshals / Monica Queen & Johnny Smillie. Broadcast, Glasgow - 12th July 2012
A very hot and humid evening in the hottest week of the year might not be the best time to celebrate the launch of your latest album with a cellar gig even when you are possibly Scotland's premier purveyors of Americana. To their credit The Wynntown Marshals sweated through a wall of heat that may have left them several pounds lighter but without any let up on what was a turbo charged show. Having moved…
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Rickie Lee Jones, The Barbican, London, 11th July 2013

This was billed as a very special one off gig at The Barbican, and it's certainly been a while since Ms Jones has played London. It's also been some time since she had a new album - but here she is with "The Devil you know" a collection of covers from Neil Young, The Band and The Rolling Stones amongst others. Which gives a good idea of how the evening will unfold - most of…
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Camper Van Beethoven, The Deaf Institute, Manchester - 31st May 2013

Camper Van Beethoven, The Deaf Institute, Manchester - 31st May 2013
The Deaf Institute is an intimate, homely venue, lined with extravagantly bonkers wallpapers and a wall of vintage speakers. An oversized glitter ball turns lazily over a crowd which is almost to capacity long before the nights support act take the stage. It is a fittingly eclectic venue to host a band that is known for their wide musical influence, and their ability to change style and genre, as convincingly as Camper Van Beethoven. The…
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Steve Forbert, The Stables, Wavendon, June 20th 2013

I must have seen Steve Forbert at least a half dozen times in the last few years, and it recently struck me that I've never seen him at the same venue twice. Last time was at The Junction, that's not on this tour, and neither is The Borderline. A couple of the venues have closed down, but even so - it's an odd thing. So, anyway here I am at The Stables again, and here's…
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Bruce Springsteen – Coventry 20th June 2013

Bruce Springsteen – Coventry 20th June 2013
The thing with seeing The Boss is be prepared, it’s not like seeing those other stadium bands or huge acts. Fans love the albums as a body of work, they’re like classical tomes, work done in movements, where track 1 is as integral to track 7 on the same record as the drums or piano. Bruce can play a track from an album from way back and the audience go nuts, they love everything –…
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King Courgette / Jenni & Billy – Black Swan, York | 25th June 2013

King Courgette / Jenni & Billy – Black Swan, York | 25th June 2013
This rickety old pub, hung with tapestries, wonky floored and wood panelling is the host of the excellent monthly folk club normally, but tonight the hillbillies are in town. King Courgette are one of the UK’s finest purveyors of that junk band, depression era old time drinking music. The venue is no longer the haunt of Dick Turpin or Guy Fawkes but a dusty western saloon. Banjo, Double Bass, Guitar and washboard, are whooping and…
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Neil Young and Crazy Horse, SECC, Glasgow - 14th June 2013

Down by the river where Glasgow’s second city of the empire reputation was forged with hammers banging, sirens hooting and men swearing above the din, it was appropriate that Neil Young reported for a shift that was mostly brutally industrial and sonic with great slabs of sound assembled to confront a capacity crowd starved of an appearance here in this city for 12 years. Brilliant, definitely. Batty, you bet. You get what Neil, with pounding…
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Elvis Costello – Barbican, York | 17th June 2013

Elvis Costello – Barbican, York | 17th June 2013
You’ll believe the man can fly. Elvis is the King of Rock n’ Roll, no doubt, he polarises opinion, and is often far from where he started as the head of the family of new wave – but live Elvis is the man. Showman, Ringmaster, wit, half Cilla Black (more on that later) half saviour of the guitar. Earlier in this current resurgence I was honoured to see him spank Newcastle City Hall with his…
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Hillfolk Noir ,The Globe, Topsham - 7th June 2013

Hillfolk Noir ,The Globe, Topsham - 7th June 2013
Down on the banks of the Exe, deep in the heart of the Westcountry must have felt like a million miles from Boise, Idaho, yet the oak beamed stable, was just like being back on the farm, picking up the chickens eggs and chopping logs for Hillfolk Noir. In what was very clearly stated by the promoter as a “Blues” club we got a very healthy dose of Depression era junk band country roots, and…
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Bruce Springsteen, San Siro Stadium, Milan, Italy - 3rd June 2013

Bruce Springsteen, San Siro Stadium, Milan, Italy - 3rd June 2013
Having racked up a good 10 previous concerts by Bruce Springsteen, the chance to see him in Milan and at the legendary San Siro stadium to boot was too good a one to miss. This was Springsteen’s fifth visit to the stadium which by all accounts he holds a special affection for. There is no doubt that the locals adore him, some 60,000 fans packing the old stadium in many cases quite literally hanging from…
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Steve Earle & The Dukes (& The Duchesses), The Sage, Gateshead, May 24th 2013

Steve Earle & the Dukes; now down to Will Rigby, drums and Kelley Looney were joined by The Mastersons (Chris Masterson, Eleanor Whitmore) performing lead guitar, pedal steel, fiddle, piano and harmony vocals as they walked on stage.And what a treat it turned out to be. It was only when he attempted to blast us all into the outer atmosphere via a blistering rock infused Transcendental Blues did my hunger ebb.
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Steve Earle and The Dukes (Duchesses), 02 Academy, Glasgow, May 30, 2013

There must be a formula but Steve Earle will surely have locked away the patent on how to romp and drive through a lengthy set list, of new songs and firm favourites, of different texture and stridency, without ever failing to satisfy.His latest tracks settle into the act like old friends who have been touring with him for years. Old songs are most welcome every time, too. My Old Friend the Blues is never less…
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Steve Earle & The Dukes (& The Duchesses), Royal Festival Hall, London, May 21st 2013

If there's one thing you can rely on it's that a 7:30 start at the RFH means that the music will start at 7:30. So The Mastersons, introduced by Steve Earle himself, opened the evening on time. The husband and wife duo of Chris Masterson (guitar/pedal steel) and Eleanor Whitmore (guitar/violin/keyboards/mandolin) - augmented by The Dukes - have a rock sound touched with country. Or maybe it's a country sound steeped deep in seventies rock.…
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Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, The Sage, Gateshead, 9th April 2013

Once country music Queen Emmylou Harris, her long-time friend, band member Rodney Crowell and their 5-piece band stepped on stage there was only one thing on their mind. They were going to have a good time and to make a night of it. And we were more than welcome to join them as they plucked out a bunch of old chestnuts to go with a wedge of material from their duet album Old Yellow Moon.…
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Allah-Las, Dingwalls, London, May 20th 2013

Allah-Las, Dingwalls, London, May 20th 2013
LA's Allah-Las are the quintessential sixties garage band - that they first got together in 2008 is just a pedantic point of chronology and timing. Their eponymous album is a perfect blend of 13th floor elevators uncontrived obscurity and twanging surf band simplicity. It's brave enough to feature straight and short instrumentals - none of those half hour long post-rock epics of chiming guitars and endless percussion - these are short stabs of chiming guitars…
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Eliza Carthy & Jim Moray - The Wayward Tour, Union Chapel, London 16th May 2013

Eliza Carthy and Jim Moray are undertaking a double header tour to celebrate their respective 21st and 10th years in the music business, the tour name a nod to both Carthy's biography Wayward Daughter and the upcoming double CD retrospective of the same name. And what a great venue to see them in - I'd never actually been to The Union Chapel before, it's all seated (on pews), and has a good acoustic. There's a…
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The Handsome Family, The Arches, Glasgow, May 18, 2013

The Handsome Family, The Arches, Glasgow, May 18, 2013
There are never any great surprises when The Handsome Family take to the stage – and for that we are forever thankful. I don’t know if anyone in the good-sized audience actually brought an invisible finch, as Rennie Sparks suggested we do on her website, but spending time in their winsome company, with or without the birds, is a treat. It was a joy that only ended when the final song faded out and we…
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Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Hammersmith Apollo, London, 9th April 2013

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Hammersmith Apollo, London, 9th April 2013
"Why don't you scratch my itch sweet Annie Rich and welcome me back to town" were not the first words I expected to hear in an Evening with ... Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell. Actually, with it's complete absence of any material from Old Yellow Moon the first hour was nothing like I was expecting at all. There was little dialogue; a brief introduction to Till I Gain Control Again as the first song Harris…
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John Grant, Shepherds Bush Empire, London 15th May 2013

John Grant, Shepherds Bush Empire, London 15th May 2013
This was a ticket that was bought the day the concert was announced, and quite a while before the new album Pale Green Ghosts hit the streets. So, with a new album and a new band in tow this was a much anticipated appearance by John Grant. Last time I saw him was at the Royal Festival Hall, with most of Midlake present as his backing band, for the triumphant putting to bed of Queen…
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Lord Huron, Junction 2, Cambridge, 13th May 2013

Lord Huron, Junction 2, Cambridge, 13th May 2013
Junction 2 had been converted to standing gig configuration - the central block of seats had been removed leaving a room which had, as Ben Schneider remarked, a "Thunderdome thing going on" with the "caged" elevated seating hanging ominously off the walls. By no means rammed full, there was a good seventy or so present for the support, and at least double that by the time Lord Huron took the stage just after nine o’clock,…
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Way to Blue: The Legacy of Nick Drake tribute concert, Wilton’s Music Hall Tue 2nd April

Way to Blue: The Legacy of Nick Drake tribute concert, Wilton’s Music Hall Tue 2nd April
Joe Boyd, Drake’s record producer, is the compere for this evening of tributes marking the release of the covers album Way to Blue. Its genesis was a series of concerts organised by Boyd bringing together a diverse range of artists to celebrate Drake’s prodigious talent nearly 30 years after his death at the age tragically young age of 26. Between a series of personal stories from the short years he spent working alongside such a…
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Eric Church, The Forum, Kentish Town, London, 24th May 2013

Eric Church, The Forum, Kentish Town, London, 24th May 2013
"Funny how a melody sounds like a memory" Plenty of memories for me in the Kentish Town Forum (or Town and Country Club as was); Rory Gallagher, The Black Crowes, Alanah Miles - yes, really, my mate touched her foot when she was sitting on top of a speaker singing Black Velvet and said that he would never wash his hand again!There were a fair few lasses who probably would have said the same if…
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Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express + Wynntown Marshals, Oran Mor, Glasgow. 1st May 2013

Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express + Wynntown Marshals, Oran Mor, Glasgow. 1st May 2013
It was a welcome return to Glasgow for Chuck Prophet who forsook his usual King Tuts habitat for a visit to the west end as part of his Panic In The Temple Tour promoting the excellent Temple Beautiful album. Always a great live draw Prophet has really blossomed in the studio over the past few years with Let Freedom Ring and Temple Beautiful emerging as his best work since the halcyon days of Green On…
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Edwyn Collins + Gary McClure, Pocklington Arts Centre, 13th Apr 2013

Edwyn Collins + Gary McClure, Pocklington Arts Centre, 13th Apr 2013
Its a big band warm up from Gary McClure; cello, violin, bass, drums, keys and 2 guitars from the first signing to the Edwyn “the inventor of indie” Collins new label. Dressed like a tradesman coming to give you a quote its a very MOR serving of jock rock. Roddy Frame's Nephew serves up all the good stuff, without being especially good, track 3, Money's Good has a dash of Del Amitri, a splash of…
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Rachel Ries, York House Concerts, 5th April 2013

I love that perky New York diner open mic night feel of Lullaby Baxter, Eilen Jewel or Jill Sobule, that queen of the small town moves to the big smoke in search of acceptance, money and fitting in. Rachel Ries, slips into that pantheon, easily, one of the best crafter of songs I have seen here since 'Sir' Pete Bruntnell. Dork Queen does guitar, ace!Sharp and sassy, she has that stylised 50's diner chic going…
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Tom Paxton, The Stables, Wavendon 25th April 2013

Tom Paxton kicked off his latest UK tour to a full house at The Stables. It's a show that's just Tom up front, with help from Robin Bullock who provides additional guitar and mandolin, and who also opened both sets with some finely played guitar instrumentals. Tom Paxton, who turned 75 last year, is a genial singer as at home with his audience as if he was playing in their living room. This is no…
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Miss Quincy & the Showdown, York House Concerts, 5th April 2013

Miss Quincy & the Showdown, York House Concerts, 5th April 2013
Its all of of sudden got hot in here, steamy even, 3 piece blues outfit Miss Quincy & the Showdown, drip sassy swamp blues, sexy, sexual and raunchy, they seem to have turned this middle aged, twee Guardian readers dinette in to Alabama or somewhere in the deep South.Shuffled drums, and dirty double bass are fine enough on their own but the Cramps style guitar is slamming and this is a house concert, so the…
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Jim Dead, State Bar, Glasgow, 12th April 2013

It only lasted half an hour, yielding six or seven songs but this was a thrilling set that said it all about Jim Dead. He is one terrific, emerging songwriter and a performer whose take on American-influenced music definitely deserves a wider audience.The youthful Dead knows how to drill into music that could be swirling around windswept canyons or seeping out eerily into sweaty, sleazy booze joints where locals slake their thirst over a cocktail…
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Birds of Chicago with Peter Mulvey, The Brasenose Arms, Cropredy, Oxfordshire April 2013

Birds of Chicago with Peter Mulvey, The Brasenose Arms, Cropredy, Oxfordshire April 2013
Americana-UK was invited to the deepest depths of the English countryside to catch the latest show of the European tour by Birds of Chicago and their friend Peter Mulvey. Where else are you going to go to see folks from Chicago, Milwaukee, Vancouver and...er....London (although drummer Will Waghorn has lived in California so that kind of fits) but the leafy lanes of an Oxfordshire village ensconced in a rural pub. You need a decent pint…
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Houndmouth, The Lexington, London, 22 Feb 13

Houndmouth, The Lexington, London, 22 Feb 13
Sometimes it takes me a little time to get things. Take Bells of Rhimney for example, it's taken me two decades to realise that it was a mining town in Wales and that's why Oysterband played it straight after Kay Sutcliffes Cole Not Dole. It didn't take me quite as long (just until Matt Myers sang "I took a drink in Lexington" from their penultimate track Comin' Round Again) to figure out why a band…
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Eels, 02 Academy, Glasgow, March 18, 2013

Eels, 02 Academy, Glasgow, March 18, 2013
The impact was immediate. They came on stage all dressed in dark tracksuits (and shades) but this was no training exercise rather a real deal, full-blooded and bloomin’ marvellous rock extravaganza that was breathtaking at times and at others was simply, staggeringly, boldly brilliant. Sensational Eels knocked it off big style with a strategy to produce a faultless rock extravaganza from one of the most creative minds on the music scene today. This year’s 2013,…
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Richard Thompson - Electric Trio, support from Robert Ellis. Alban Arena, St. Albans. 9th March 2013

What a difference a venue makes - and it's hard to imagine how Robert Ellis was feeling. A couple of weeks ago he was competing with a rowdy Shepherds Bush crowd, as likely to be catching up at the bar as listening to the music. And now - the rapt and reverential attention of a virtually full regional theatre (which would be totally full for Richard Thompson). There's good applause for every song, but it's…
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Sam Carter (support Pip/Stuart), York Basement Bar, York, 8th March 2013

It’s a great venue to seek out gems and it would appear few people in York know how great this place is. I’ve seen Steve Wynn, Rod Pidcott, Ben Parker and Boo Hewardine all play here, all really good gigs and tonight is no exception. Sam Carter I was only aware of after he featured on the excellent monthly CD available from the Americana UK website, loved that track, so for £8 what can be…
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Wreckless Eric / Amy Rigby, Stereo, Glasgow, March 7, 2013

Wreckless Eric / Amy Rigby, Stereo, Glasgow, March 7, 2013
The moment when Amy Rigby duffed the mini wig-out ending to Dancing With Joey Ramone, one of her most famous songs, and then burst into a delightful fit of the giggles perfectly summed up this right old night of punk rock’n’roll, country fun. No-one could argue that Wreckless Eric and his good lady wife are less than hugely entertaining with a set list that bucked up fans with punk in their blood and those who…
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Caitlin Rose, Dingwalls, London, 27th February 201

Caitlin Rose is a huge talent as a singer, songwriter and live performer, anyone in the sold out Dingwalls on Wednesday night will confirm that. Caitlin arrived in town with her touring buddies in tow. I didn’t rush to get to the show as I had not heard of the opening support but upon arrival I wished that I had of strapped my skates on and hadn’t missed the first few numbers from Andrew Combs…
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Heidi Talbot (with Jon McCusker & Ian Carr) Pocklington Arts Centre – 5th March 201

Heidi Talbot (with Jon McCusker & Ian Carr) Pocklington Arts Centre – 5th March 201
Heidi Talbot is every inch what the folk resurgence is looking for; voice of a lark, blonde and photogenic, she is primed ready to be the queen of folk. Tonight she is dressed like everyone's favourite school teacher, tortoise and hare print dress, like Truely Scrumptious - but when she opens her mouth it is like an angel speaks. The sets starts with Grace Darling the tale of the girl in Northumberland rowing drowning sailors…
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Catlin Rose, Steelism, Andrew Coombes, Leeds, Brudenell Social Club

Catlin Rose, Steelism, Andrew Coombes, Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
I try best I can, not just to love this thing we call Americana, Nu-Country or Alt-Countr,y but to live it. I like a Cuban heel, shirt with a yolk or press-stud fastening, same as any man clinging to his youth, but this was one of those nights to face facts, the boat of youth has sailed and it’s left you waving at the dock. Chelsea boots, stack heels, vintage Farrahs and a plethora of…
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Mark Eitzel, Oran Mor, Glasgow, February 27th 2013

Mark Eitzel, Oran Mor, Glasgow, February 27th 2013
When a chap walks into a room wearing a hat and keeps it on throughout the visit I’m never sure he plans on staying a while, or is looking at as quick a getaway as possible. Maybe Mark Eitzel was thinking the same way as he said (jokingly?) more than once that his next song would be his last of the show. Luckily he stayed on for over an hour though he did walk off…
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Jon Boden and the Remnant Kings, Junction 2, Cambridge 4th March 2013

Jon Boden and the Remnant Kings, Junction 2, Cambridge 4th March 2013
Jon Boden has so many strings to his bow that it must look more like a rustic harp than a weapon of stealthy hunting. The Remnant Kings are his outlet as a singer-songwriter working, perhaps not that surprisingly, in a strongly folk influenced manner. The major release to date has been Songs From The Floodplain, a series of songs set in a post-apocalyptic future where the oil is running out and traditional pursuits are being…
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Richard Thompson - Electric Trio, support from Robert Ellis. Shepherds Bush Empire, 25th February 20

Let's assume that everyone knows that Richard Thompson is an amicable enigma, a man who can do interview after interview extolling his latest (excellent of course) album as being stripped down and embodying the new musical genre of folk-funk. Naturally he relies on nobody that he has talked to actually listening to the album in advance. Electric? Eclectic, more like. Yet one kernel of truth has slipped out - this latest tour sees him heading…
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Lord Huron, The Old Blue Last, London, 7th February 2013

Lord Huron, The Old Blue Last, London, 7th February 2013
Tonight The Old Blue Last has the honour of hosting the very first UK performance of this highly acclaimed band of musicians. Lord Huron are led by creative genius, Ben Schneider, a singer songwriter influenced by the narrative of poetic western literature. Schneider has the ability to transport us to those atmospheric, wide open plains and vast prairies of American cinematography and mythology. The band whose sound is a wondrous collision of Appalachian percussion, echoing…
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Stornaway + Laura J Martin, Pocklington Arts Centre, 9th February 2013

Stornaway + Laura J Martin, Pocklington Arts Centre, 9th February 2013
I have been keen to see a band here, twin guitar singer songwriter types due to the great view of the stage and warm, respectful sound mix, normally it’s home to acoustic so it’s no surprise that Laura J Martin is one of those singleton types doing the opening that the venue enjoys so much. An odd ball, Kate Bush with a flute is what we get. Mixing her quirky ‘Larry the Lamb’ voice and…
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Angus Stone, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, Wednesday 13th February

Having played his way through the major cities of Europe, Angus Stone arrives to play the final night of his 16 date tour to a packed Shepherds Bush Empire on this cold winter evening. The tour is off of the back of last years well received solo album Broken Brights which is a departure from the two previous albums released with big sister Julia for which he is probably better known to many. Reaching number…
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Calexico, ABC O2 Glasgow, Friday 15th February

Calexico, ABC O2 Glasgow, Friday 15th February
The seven piece Calexico that appeared tonight have come a long way since Joey Burns and John Convertino made their first tentative steps away from the shadow of Howe Gelb’s Giant Sand with their first offering, Spoke, an album that crammed 19 tracks into its 45 minutes. Subsequent albums saw them occupying the south west of the states with mariachi and Tejano music well to the fore, a sound that they have steadily moved on…
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Fred Eaglesmith, Stereo, Glasgow, 16th February 2013

Leaving a Fred Eaglesmith gig without smiling is hard to do, despite the doggedly independent Canadian’s repertoire of songs about tough luck, lovelorn times, plus, conversely, the splendours of trucks and driving, and life on the road, of course. Returning to the city for the first time in over four years for another Fallen Angels Club promotion, he was in brilliant form. Shabbily resplendent in a two-piece suit and a hat complete with aviator goggles…
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Phosphorescent St Pancras Old Church, London, Wed 30th January 2013

Phosphorescent St Pancras Old Church, London, Wed 30th January 2013
I have loved Phosphorescent ever since they laid me under their spell on a wonderful sunny Sunday afternoon in the Dorset countryside in September 2010. That was Mr Houck with his sublime and joyous band in tow performing material from the recently released Here’s to Taking It Easy and the tribute album To Willie. It is a show also fondly remembered by Mathew Houck who is Phosphorescent. It is probably too early for Mathew to…
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The Be Good Tanyas, support Emily Portman, The Barbican, London, 3rd February 2013

The Be Good Tanyas, support Emily Portman, The Barbican, London, 3rd February 2013
Emily Portman, fresh from winning the best new song category of the Radio2 Folk Awards, gave a short set taken almost totally from her most recent album Hatchlings, and naturally included the award winning title song. Supported by fiddle, harp, and cello and with Emily Portman herself on melodeon, banjo, and ukulele they do not look like a group that was about to sing about, amongst other ghoulish subjects, children that are cooked and served…
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Old Crow Medicine Show, Celtic Connections, Barrowland, Glasgow, 1st February 2013

Old Crow Medicine Show, Celtic Connections, Barrowland, Glasgow, 1st February 2013
The street musicians caught the eye and the ear momentarily as we made our way into Barrowland, Glasgow’s finest live music venue – but inside, on-stage the indelible delights of former buskers, Old Crown Medicine Show easily grabbed and kept the attention of a sell-out crowd throughout a sparkling set. The six-man band’s thoughtful mix of bluegrass hoe-down, hillbilly jigs, rustic blues on a sublime wave of excellent musicianship proved to be hugely pleasurable. They…
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Toy Hearts- Drifting Classroom-Liverpool Acoustic, View Two Gallery-Liverpool, 25 January 2013

Toy Hearts- Drifting Classroom-Liverpool Acoustic, View Two Gallery-Liverpool, 25 January 2013
Liverpool Acoustic’s Graham Holland and Stuart Todd can be very pleased with themselves. They won the Live Music Night of the Year Award at the inaugural Liverpool Music Awards 2012 with a night that’s been running for nearly four years now. The nights are usually monthly and mainly at the View 2 Gallery, an oasis of calm, up several flights of stairs from the weekend madness that is Liverpool’s Mathew Street. Liverpool Acoustic’s nights usually…
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Steve Cropper with The Animals, support by The Stumble. The Stables, Wavendon, 25th January 2013

It's been quite a while since I last dragged out to The Stables, but it's worth a bit of a drive for Steve Cropper and not even the prospect of a return home in a blizzard was going to put me off. When I booked the ticket I'd thought that I knew what to expect - a set from The Animals & Friends (John Steel, Mickey Gallagher, Pete Barton and guitarist/vocalist Danny Handley - whom…
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John Murry, Celtic Connections, Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow, 23rd January 2013

Awkward, yes. Uncomfortable, definitely. Nervous, probably. Edgy, yes, that’s it, the perfect description for John Murry’s support slot to Cowboy Junkies in the glory of this venue. “I am not intoxicated” he yelled at one stage.He made me think of the opposite sex during his brief time on stage, or to be more precise, Cat Power. The man from Mississippi – he now lives in California but hates it – was all ragged movements, hesitant…
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Cowboy Junkies, Celtic Connections, Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow, 23 January 2013

Cowboy Junkies, Celtic Connections, Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow, 23 January 2013
The unrushed, cultured and considered way Cowboy Junkies perform is such a pleasurable experience, not least because their masterful song choice is immaculate.Of course, Margo Timmins on vocals would make any band a triumph with her presence, either perched on a piano-bar stool or standing flopped over the mic stand, pushing her hair from her face. She was staggeringly impressive in a setting that could have been designed just for this band. Surely, it was…
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