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Sunday, November 11, 2007

A few sentences on Cara Dillon

CARA DILLON
The Met, Bury
Saturday 10th November 2007

[web][myspace]

According to Wikipedia, The Met, in it's former life, was a Magistrates Court. Happily, thanks to a registered charity called The Bury Metropolitan Arts Association, it is now an entertainment venue of good repute, where a gathering of about 250 good citizens of sound mind (or should that have read 250 citizens who minded what sounded good) took to the witness box.
Holding court was Cara Dillon who in my judgement presided over a really fine session.
Her support act warrants more than just a mention. The duo, collectively known as JamesAndSteve are James Meadows and Steve Lacey.
Steve played acoustic guitar and vocals and James played tenor banjo and mandola. They're a Yorkshire duo who play traditional folk songs and jigs&reels. I was impressed with James' banjo skills. The ears pricked up when I recognised one of his Scottish reels which turned out to be Puirt-a-beul, recently recorded by Julie Fowlis. And if you could imagine the Irish reels played on violin at such a rapid tempo and then match them note for note on a banjo then you'd get some idea of this lad's dexterity.
In the ensuing interval afterJamesandSteve's 25 minute set, I mulled over a couple of observations. The voices from neighbouring seats spoke in accents from many miles away from Bury. Indeed one was a friend of mine from Taunton. All adult ages were represnted although a the bulk was 30-40 somethings. Above all, it was a full house of around 250+.
The other observation was that it was just about 1 year to the day since I last saw Cara live (Buxton). On that occasion Cara was 26 weeks pregnant with twins. Understandably, she tired easily. Little did we know that those twins were going to give Cara & Sam the fright of their lives by making their appearance less than one week after that Buxton gig.
Twelve months on .....

(adjourned)

So as I rest my case, there will be no reasonable doubt that the audience will be demanding the release of her next album.

Setlist

She Moved Through The Fair
Craigie Hill
Black Is The Colour
There Were Roses (Cara & Sam)
Gem of the Roe (Cara & Ed)
Garden Valley
P stands for Paddy
Wish You Well
October Winds
Lark In The Clear Air (Cara & Sam)
Where Are You Now
Set of Tunes

Encore : Never In A Million Years

Band

Cara Dillon - Vocals, whistle, violin
Sam Lakeman - Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar
Ed Boyd (from Flook) - Acoustic Guitars, Bazouki
James O'Grady - various low whistles, Uillean Pipes, Violin

Monday, October 22, 2007

It's Buy One Get One Free at the Liverpool Phil

MOYA BRENNAN / JULIE FEENEY
Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
Sunday 21st October 2007

Moya Brennan [web][myspace][wiki]
Julie Feeney [web][myspace][wiki]

When details of this show were published in the Phil's brochure, the prospect of Moya, accompanied by the RLPO, was good enough to sell me a pair of tickets. But this particular bargain at the point of sale wasn't the only one on offer.
Apparently Moya had discovered a phenomenal musician at the same time as I did. We both tuned in to a Duke Special concert on BBC Radio Ulster and sharing the bill that evening was Julie Feeney. I was so impressed with her that I just had to do my little bit to tell the world via Musictipping.com while Moya found out that there was more to Julie Feeney than just singer/songwriting. To cut a long story short, Moya invited Julie to score the music for the string section of the RLPO and conduct them as well.
So, with the needle on my anticipation dial pointing way past the red zone, and last night's Brian Kennedy concert still keeping me on a high, it was time to welcome Moya Brennan, the voice of Clannad with her 7-piece backing band on to the stage.
Robed in a resplendant royal blue Ciaran S. Grammy number, Moya was received by her awaiting accompanists.
Tapestry's intricate weavings of Eamonn Galldubh's Uillean Pipes, Sinead Madden's Violin and Moya's mesmeric vocals emerged from the fading applause and just to ensure that the audience's tansition into trance was complete, Moya reached for the bones and tapped us into Newgrange before saying Hello.
Apart from a minor distraction of a quickly quelled flash photographer and the whirring of the smoke machine during Pill A Run O, the first half continued as per the Signature Tour set - a steady flow of Clannad favourites, one or two from Moya's previous solo albums and a couple of jigs and reels. The penultimate song of the first half saw the introduction of Julie Feeney, who sat at the grand piano and delivered one of her songs from her 13 Songs album, Wind Out Of My Sails. Moya added BVs.
Julie returned the compliment for the first half finale, Many Faces.
The addition of the string section at the start of the second half made a mockery of the ticket price. A cluster of 4 whammies, 3 from Signature with Harry's Game in the midst, forced the body folicles to stand up on the goosebumps. For openers, Purple Haze was instrumentally lethal. Julie managed to split the group into two during the staccato bits.The arrangements of Merry Go Round and Black Night were of a equally high standard.
As was Harry's Game which seemed to be given a whole new life.
Prior to this concert I had this preconceived idea that the orchestra would be a dominant feature, but my fears were happily allayed. Everything integrated so well and each song just had this extra depth.
From this cluster of 4 the orchestra took a breather but returned here and there for more beauties from the Signature album,No One Talks,in particular, was just out and out quality.
An encore was demanded and as the backing band were doing there cameo solos during Nil Se'n La (It's Not Yet Daytime) it suddenly dawned on me that we were approaching the end of the show.
I wasn't keeping count, but apparently 9 songs were scored by Julie. She obviously has more strings to her bow (groan !) than just singer/songwriting.
Hour upon hours worth of rehearsal work must have gone into this by everyone on that stage. The whole presentation was immaculate right down to intricate details like Sinead's BVs harmonising perfectly with the violins.
Moya signed my copy of her autobiography after the show. I mentioned the Birkenhead gig and she told me that she enjoyed reading my review. So if Moya is kind enough to read my written works, it's only fair that I should read hers.
And to close this perfect weekend, I had to play that Beautiful Dreamer duet with Brian Kennedy once more.


The Band

Moya Brennan - Lead Vocals, Harp, Shaker & Bones
Paul Byrne – percussion
Fionan De Barra – Guitars, Vocals
Sinead Madden – Fiddle, (perfectly matched)Vocals and Shaker
Sam Jackson – Piano /Keyboards
Eamonn Galldubh – Uilleann Pipes, Clarinet and other wind instruments.
Yoshinobi Izumi – Electric Bass (left handed), Vocals
Cormac De Barra – Electric Harp, Vocals

Julie Feeney - Guest singer and conductor and the musical score for the string section of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

FOOTNOTE1: Thanks very much to Martijn from Moya's Forum for getting a copy of the setlist

FOOTNOTE2 : Moya talks about the Signature album.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Brian Kennedy, a Scouser from Belfast


BRIAN KENNEDY
Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
Saturday 20th October 2007

[web][myspace]
Brian Kennedy abandoned all but one of his band, ditched his suit and tore up the setlist and then casually walked on to the stage at one of Liverpool's most prestigious venues, packed to the rafters, and provided a performance that will be cemented into the audience's memories for years to come.
After the obligatory half-hour support act - (Steve Roberts) - a local lad from Waterloo, who conjured up songs about taxi journeys from Speke, his Mother-in-law and New Brighton's nightclubs - the lights brightened to reveal a relatively well populated auditorium. Not a bad attendance, considering that there was a bit of a rugby match on the telly. However, as BK's appearance became imminent,this soon became a capacity audience when the orders were bellowed for the stragglers to leave the bar.
The lights dimmed once again and his backing band for the night, Callum MacColl, took his place on stage to receive Mr. Kennedy, whose arrival was greeted with a bit of a gasp due his shorn locks and attire of black t-shirt & jeans.
It could only have been Brian Kennedy as he grabbed his guitar and launched straight into one of the songs from his latest album. I've forgotten the title already because, like Brian, I didn't make a setlist.
That was the plan, as far as songs were concerned, totally ad-libbed from the off and all requests from the lively bunch of Liverpudlians were thrown into the mix. That is the beauty of the live performance. Expect anything, for when the singer has such quality and the songs are established favourites, the outcome is guaranteed enjoyment.
For his part, Brian was totally at home with the mass of Merseysiders. One request was for Christopher Street, which he repeated back in an acceptable Scouse dialect. This banter was stepped up a further notch as an American shouted his request which received a similar mimic.
On Brian's CV you will find that he has performed in Riverdance, been a backing singer with Van Morrison, accompanied countless other artistes ranging from Lulu to Sinead O'Connor and has represented Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Album releases are well into double figures, and two songs from his next album, Interpretations, was represented in the show. As you can guess from the title, Interpretations will be comprised of cover versions, and I for one can't wait for its release. If Clifford T Ward's Gay and Declan O'Rourke's Gallileo are anything to go by. I'm currently nursing a cold, the streaming eyes and runny nose were a brilliant excuse to get the hankie out for Clifford's cover.
His main set closed with Put The Message In The Box and returned with a 2 song encore. The first being last year's Irish Eurovision entry,Every Song Is A Cry For Love and, for any potential X-Factor entrants, a beautiful off-mic delivery of You Raise Me Up..... yes, the one that Westlife did, but go and find a copy of Brian's....
I joined the queue at the CD table after the show and picked up On Song and On Song 2, the latter had Beautiful Dreamer on it. I just had to play that one before resting my head, especially as it is a duet with Moya Brennan. Moya is appearing at this venue the night after....and I have tickets.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Ferry follows up with Fourth Street and first time feelings follow forthwith

Just around the time when Beatlemania was becoming a worldwide epidemic, I popped into my local record shop and bought my first single - Positively 4th Street by Bob Dylan. Even at the tender age of 11, I was already showing signs of developing a non-conformist taste in music.
Whilst I was perusing YouTube the other day I casually entered 4th Street into the Search box, and - deep joy - there it was.
A quick glance to the right, and Bryan Ferry's name appeared in the list of related videos.
This song cannot be covered without doing it a total injustice, I thought.
Curiosity got the better of me and I gave Bryan's thumbnail a click. It was like hearing it for the first time all over again.
So while I go off to find out what CD this cover available on, go and play the video - HERE

Monday, July 02, 2007

You need to pay more attention to CCTV these days

[web][myspace][youtube][musictipping]

CCTV - That's Celine Carroll TV on YouTube. The YouTube link above takes you to the first in a series where the theme is 2 new songs in a different shirt. The songs are new (original) because they are all written by herself. This could be quite a long series because Celine claims that she will never run out of songs (I'll guarantee that statement), although she might run out of shirts (can't comment on that one).....now chose one (or more) of the following :
  • 1. ITCH and YEAH

  • 2. HEART OF GOLD and SO WRONG

  • 3. WE'LL SEE and GREY SKY BLUE

  • 4. DIME and APOLOGISE

  • 5. HUMAN TOUCH and BLAME THIS WORLD

  • 6. BETTER THAN THIS and SWEET HEART OF MINE

  • 7. FAIRYTALE ON ICE and BIRD IN A CAGE

  • 8. I'D RATHER BE IN JAIL THAN BE IN LOVE WITH YOU AGAIN and LOVING YOU

  • 9. JUST GOTTA GET AWAY and SHINE

  • 10. YOU'RE STILL HERE and I LOVE YOU I

  • 11. YOUR WORLD and STAND BY THE ONE THAT YOU LOVE


  • May I also direct your attention to Celine singing live at Bewley's with Siobhan Lennon. The song is called DAISY LADY - if you click this link I promise that your ears will love you forever !
    And here is an example of what makes the Irish music industry so fascinating, as you delve a little further, you find another group or artiste that you just have to find out a bit more about. Here's Tir Na Nog with thei version of DAISY LADY.

    Saturday, June 02, 2007

    Julie's Aching Is So Soothing

    [web][myspace][youtube][musictipping]
    Thanks to a newsletter e-mail from Duke Special, advertising a show on BBC Radio Ulster, I discovered Julie Feeney, a wonderful Irish singer/songwriter.

    She opened the show with a (I'm beginning to hate this over-used descriptive) haunting song called Aching. She holds the note on the 'A' for around 30 seconds or so while the string section seems to do the breathing. Suffice it to say, Aching is a truly beautiful song and it is the opening track on an understandably, much acclaimed debut album entitled 13 Songs.

    To say Julie is articulate and educated is an understatement. I found this on Wikipedia :- "Feeney played with the Galway Youth Orchestra, studied music and psychology at University College Cork, and after moving to Dublin, graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 2002 with a master's in music and media technologies."

    With credits from the likes of The Guardian and Sunday Times, appearances in Lord of the Dance and Riverdance, as well as an exemplorary education record, you won't need too much convincing that '13 Songs' is a top-class album and an asset to any discerning music lover's collection.

    Thursday, April 19, 2007

    Julie Fowlis breezes into Chester with the force of a Gael

    JULIE FOWLIS
    Telford’s Warehouse
    Chester
    Monday 16th April 2007

    [web][youtube][myspace][musictipping]
    Such is my enjoyment of live music and the atmosphere of the whole event, that when someone recommended a singer who I’d never heard of, I bought a pair of tickets for the first available local gig.
    Not only was this singer unknown to me, she sang totally in Outer Hebridean Gaelic.
    As is what has now become common practice on Myspace, I signed this singer up as a friend, but I refused to satisfy all curiosity by deliberately avoiding listening to the songs that were uploaded on to her page. The idea was to attend this gig without any preconceptions and have a totally open mind about what was about to hit me.

    I had no intentions of compiling a set-list. I didn’t know any songs and more to the point, I couldn’t even spell them. One thing, which did strike me as peculiar, was that there were no instruments at rest on the stage and, apart from 4 microphone stands, there were no trailing wires.

    Well, that’s all the negatives cleared up. A glance up at the nameplate on the speaker revealed the word BOSE, a second glance to the left saw the quartet arriving on stage. From hereon, we’re talking quality.

    Any fears about Gaelic vs. English were put to rest as each song was explained with clarity and humour. The subject matter ranged from elopement, being seasick and good old fashioned tales of love and romance.

    Julie Fowlis, second left, was lead singer, tin whistle player and chief story-teller. To her immediate left (audience’s right) was a fellow Scotsman, Duncan Chisolm, on Violin, the pair were flanked by her fiancĂ©, Eamon Doorley on Bouzouki and Tony Byrne on Acoustic Guitar. The latter two were from Dublin.

    The celtic fusion and humour is best exemplified by the introduction to one of the medleys of jigs and reels. Duncan, in a fine Scottish brogue, said “The second one is a traditional Highland tune entitled ‘Morag, please trim your toenails because they’re ripping the blanket’ ”. Eamon replied, “Over in Donegal, the very same tune goes by the title ‘Mary. Please cut your toenails, you’re scratching my ankles’

    Julie’s vocals were clear, confident and captivating. The opening song, Hug air a Bhonaid Mhoir, (Celebrate the Great Bonnet) was the first from her latest CD, Cuilidh (pronounced Ku-lee). It was so catchy, it immediately claimed your attention. It might be worth noting that not too many people possess CDs by female folk singers from the Outer Hebrides, so there’s many a prized collection with a noticable gap. Another thing that I noticed was that there wasn’t an Aran sweater or pair of corduroys to been found in the wide age-ranged, attentive, audience of over 100.
    Word has already got around, it appears. One explanation for the healthy attendance might be put down to the fact that her music has been endorsed by the likes of BBC R2’s Mark Ratcliffe and Radiohead’s Philip Selway.

    Songs of varying tempos were delivered with clarity. The storylines which preceded each one gave the listener a strong enough understanding to almost translate the lyrics. Not that the lyrics mattered anyway, the sincerity and purity of Julie’s singing coupled with the quality of the instrumental backing was good enough to satisfy my aural requirements. These songs were interspersed by a couple of instrumental jigs & reels and excellent solos & duets, both vocal and instrumental.

    The two hour trad-arr trip ticked away with tormenting rapidity and encore time came all too soon.
    Eamon and Julie returned to the stage and after a brief Gaelic tutorial we were invited to join in the chorus !

    If you ever get the chance to witness Julie Fowlis, don’t use the fact that it’s all in Gaelic as an excuse not to go. Learning about it is a delightful ear-opener……..so if will excuse me for a while, I’m off to translate The Theme From Harry’s Game !

    Friday, March 30, 2007

    Celine Carroll's follow-up to Itch won't be a rash decision

    [web][myspace][musictipping]
    Here is a video of Honey, a little taster to whet the appetite for those who are hungry for more after her current album, Itch. This was taken during a recent gig at Bewley's, Grafton St. Dublin.

    CELINE CARROLL - Live Show, Honey

    Wednesday, March 28, 2007

    Moya Brennan's Signature is worth all the polycarbonate it's written on

    [web][myspace]
    Compiling gig reviews is relatively straightforward because it’s a descriptive snapshot of a moment in time. Throw in a few nice words about the performer(s), the effect on the audience, maybe tag on a setlist and you’ve cracked it. However,an album review is a different kettle of fish.

    You should therefore appreciate that it’s going to take a very special album to make me wax lyrical about its merits. Ladies & Gentlemen, I now present to you my views on the best album that I’ve heard in years, Moya Brennan’s Signature.

    Signature was produced by Moya Brennan and mixed by guitarist/pianist/backing vocalist, Fionan De Barra. It was released on the BEO record label, October 2006. The album contains 12 quality tracks which takes little effort from the listener to get totally immersed in.

    A quick feather of the cymbals, then we’re dropped into a rolling Purple Haze. From a lyrical aspect there are no more than half a dozen phrases. Musically, it’s lethal. Rolling piano, wild Uillean pipes and Moya’s pure vocals will beat the aural recipient into submission. By the time Merry Go Round , track 3, comes around the listener’s grip on reality has become totally loosened.

    Study the quality of the weaving of voice and violin in Tapestry, track 5. Dream your way through Black Night, track 6, and sink to your knees to Hear My Prayer, track 7.
    Maire Breatnach’s name appears in the sleeve notes of this album. Although this virtuoso of the violin is not associated with any given track, I suspect that she might have joined in on this particular song at least.
    Many Faces, track 9, has the backing music from the League of Nations. It has an Egyptian sand-dancer’s beat, the odd plink of the harp takes you to Latin America, while the Uillean pipes could well be charming snakes in the depths of India. The penultimate song, Gone Are The Days, track 11, allows you to reflect on your carefree days of youth before closing with the beautiful simplicity of a ‘trad. arr.’ , entitled Pill A Run O.

    Getting tired of listening to this album is not an option. It’s just impossible to put down. Even if you attempt to do so, then please take extreme care when listening upon return. It has the cheek to sound even better. Signature not only takes over your life, it gnaws away at your soul.

    To those who may still have second thoughts about accompanying this CD on the journey from the display shelf to the checkout till, then rest assured that the seal of quality is Moya Brennan, the voice of Clannad. This album doesn’t need the help of self-centred radio stations to push sales. In fact, they might have to air this album to attract the listeners.

    Saturday, March 24, 2007

    Two autographed CDs , but no Signature

    MOYA BRENNAN
    Pacific Road Arts Centre
    Birkenhead
    Friday 23rd March 2007

    [web][myspace]
    I’ve been in possession of Moya Brennan’s Signature CD for about two weeks or so now, and I’ve absolutely hammered it. And, boy, I was more ready for this concert than a footie fan is for a Wembley cup final.

    At the rear of the stage at Pacific Road Arts Centre is a tram museum. Black drapes just about hide the audience’s view from these relics of yesteryear. To further assist the optical protection, there is a constant stream of dry ice and the artistes enter the stage like they do on Stars In Your Eyes.

    This was no tribute act though, Moya, (vocals, harp & shaker) and her 7 piece band were about to take us from these mists of the ‘Pacific’, across the Irish Sea to drop us on the other side of the Wicklow Mountains into the fields of the 32 counties and 40 shades of green.

    Such is the mystical power of the music of Moya Brennan. Moya’s voice has the purity of Waterford Crystal and her songs are simply mesmeric. From the first song onwards the optical view of the band is overwritten by images from the mind’s eye and you just float away.

    I didn’t take note of the setlist, but the show lasted for around 2hrs plus a 20 minute interval. The essential content was a plentiful supply of songs from her latest album, Signature, with some favourites from Clannad. There were also a couple of instrumental medleys of jigs & reels which saw Moya on the harp.

    Irish jigs & reels are interesting enough with a conventional set of instruments, but when you include 2 harps, Uillean pipes and the obligatory fiddle within this array. then your ears are in for a bit of exercise.

    Tapestry (Moya’s Signature) and New Grange (Clannad’s Lore & others) opened the show before Moya conversed. She was pleased to back on Merseyside and felt almost shocked that it was several years since she last appeared over in Liverpool. The mere fact that that the venue was just about sold out proved out the proverb about absence and the heart.

    Old favourites form the Clannad days included Robin the Hooded Man, Theme From Harry’s Game and In A Lifetime. The Signature CD was well represented, although the album wasn’t available at the CD table.

    Two hours just whistled by, and as she came to introduce the last song, Gone Are The Days, Moya explained that Signature is a snapshot of her life and that particular song reflected on her younger times. Judging by her looks and her voice, the fountains of youth are still flowing.

    Moya returned for the encore which closed with an old Irish fighting song, Against the Wind, which features some fantastic drumming by Paul Byrne. Golden uplights on the drumkit make for a spectacular finale.

    At the end of the show I added a couple of CDs to my collection, one being her Christmas album (shop early !) and her debut solo album , Maire (RCA 1993). This album features her sisters, Dee, Bridin and Olive and it’s well worth a listen just for the natural sibling harmonies from the Irish equivalent of the Von Trapp family !

    Moya’s Band :

    Moya Brennan - Lead Vocals, Harp, Shaker & Bones
    Paul Byrne – percussion
    Fionan De Barra – Guitars, Vocals
    Sinead Madden – Fiddle, (perfectly matched)Vocals
    Sam Jackson – Keyboards
    Eamonn Galldubh – Uillleann Pipes, Saxaphone, Clarinet
    Yoshinobi Izumi – Electric Bass (left handed), Vocals
    Cormac De Barra – Electric Harp, Vocals


    Click Here for the Signature album review

    Monday, March 12, 2007

    Not radio, I regret, but the 'net which filled the Met for Juliet

    JULIET TURNER
    Bury Met,
    Friday 9th March 2007

    [web][myspace]
    Apart from a change in the support act and just one song previously unheard, there has been no great change in Juliet Turner's offerings since her last appearance at this venue some 13 months ago.
    She hasn't had the momentum of a big UK tour to call upon either.
    Even radio airplay has been almost non-existent recently. The odd play on Wogan here and there have been my only JT encounters over the past 12 months.All this relative inactivity is hardly the best foundation for a successful live show on a cold Friday March evening in the heart of Lancashire.
    So we have to choose from, good venue promotional work, word of mouth, the internet, the undying support of the faithful followers or the quality of Juliet Turner & guitarist Brian Grace as the reason for filling the Bury Met.
    Draw your own conclusions, but the quality element is what drags me out of my armchair.
    It's common knowledge that the reason for her musical inertia is that Juliet is studying Speech Therapy at Trinity College, Dublin. Although the studying is probably intense and most of her time is now dedicated to achieving her anticipated qualification, she assured the audience that she does manage to visit the studio now and again and a new album will be forthcoming soon.
    As for the content of the gig, the Bury faithful (and any newcomers) were treated to about an hour and a half of her `old' favourites. Starting with `Pick A Story' and closing with `Everything Beautiful Is Burning', the performance was faultless, the banter was friendly, the between-song stories were a-plenty and new. It was also difficult to imagine that Brian Grace and Juliet had not performed live together as frequently as say, last year. The best example of this natural musical togetherness was particularly noticeable at the closing of `1987' where they were racing along chord for chord and without even a glance to each other, they nailed the finish with perfection.
    She returned for the encore, which closed with the much-requested `Vampire' , but the highlight of the evening – and probably for the entire duration of my Juliet Turner support – was that she agreed to sing `Broken Things'. She sang this song at the Memorial Service for the victims of the Omagh bombing. I don't believe she has ever performed it since. I have only called upon this song a couple of times since then during my own personal traumas, such is the gravity of this beautiful song.
    Thank you Juliet Turner for the quality music that you have delivered so far, thank you also for promising to return. Good Luck with the studies.


    Thanks to Paddycam for this vid from a gig at Whelan's , Dublin

    Wednesday, February 07, 2007

    Be upstanding for the Duke

    DUKE SPECIAL
    The Barfly, Liverpool
    Tuesday 6th February 2007

    [web][myspace][musictipping]
    Quite a bit has happened to the musical career of Duke Special since I saw him perform live in Wrexham last May. That show attracted little more than 20-odd die-hards and the souvenirs comprised of little more than a couple of EPs, a boxed set of vinyls and one or two egg whisks and cheese graters.

    He’s since made a new album, Songs From The Deep Forest and he’s released Freewheel as a single from it. Freewheel was released this week and it is getting regular airplay on BBC Radio 2.

    Bears are featured on the sleeve notes of his album, the cover of the single & video and also the ‘Duke Special on Tour’ T-shirts.

    The original version of Teddy Bears Picnic announced the bands pending arrival on to the stage. The concert hall at the Barfly became the bear pit as a crowd of about 250+ welcomed Duke and his band to Liverpool with a great big hug.

    Apart from sharing a tour with The Divine Comedy, airplay on BBC R2 for that last fortnight and a couple of minutes with Billy Butler on BBC Radio Merseyside earlier in the day, there has been little else, other than word of mouth and the internet, to explain the reason for this ten-fold increase in audience figures.

    And as he sang Brixton Leaves to open the show, any malingering thoughts about the audience’s authenticity soon evaporated when they cheered as one to the line where Belfast was mentioned. As the applause eventually grew quiet at the closing of the song to make way for Duke to speak, he said “Hello Liverpool” in a somewhat surprised tone, “ Where did you all come from ?”

    When you’ve witnessed someone come from humble beginnings as a support act and followed him to this point some three years later, it makes you feel that both audience and artiste are in this together. It promised to be, and it proved to be, one glorious night.

    I didn’t make a note of the setlist, but tracks from Songs from the Deep Forest accounted for most of the show which included a few favourites from previous tours. Wake Up Scarlett, Freewheel, and Last Night I Nearly Died are taking on an anthemic aura.

    On stage Duke (piano and accordion) is accompanied by, The Temperance Society Chip Bailey (percussion) and two others whose names I didn’t catch. If the instrumentalists match the album sleeve notes, they are Ben Castle (clarinet, saxophone & synth) and Paul Wilkinson (bass & guitar). The latter two played well as straight-forward out-and-out quality musicians.
    Duke, apart the odd first-night-on-tour lyrical slip-ups, was excellent, of course.

    But the visual delight was Chip Bailey. He makes Animal off the Muppets look as boring as a politician. One moment his arms are waving about like windmill sails clattering everything in sight, next moment totally disinterested, next moment poised for a dab on a cymbal like a cat ready to pounce. Add to that the array of items he makes use of besides the drumkit – stompf fiddle, egg whisk & cheese grater and goats toenails to name but a few, then you’ll appreciate that descriptive words will never match the visual.

    If there were any complaints, it had to be that there were no seats and an obstructed view. One or two of the elder members of the audience would have put a bench or two around the perifory to welcome use. However, the lack of such facilities encouraged a spot of dancing now and again.

    Liverpool was the first port of call on the Songs From The Deep Forest album tour. Catch him live on this one if you can, while the tickets are cheap – next tour might see him in the big arenas !

    Thursday, January 04, 2007

    A brilliant oldie from Into The New

    I'm a bit partial to Irish female singers and I like my '80s - so if you combine the two, then the result is heavenly.
    Courtesy of You Tube, I present to you IN TUA NUA featuring LESLIE DOWDALL.