Wednesday 23rd March 2011
Well, to drive off on a 100 mile round trip just to witness someone doing a support slot for a band, who you'd never heard a song from, might be considered a bit irrational, especially during these times of austerity. However, after taking into consideration that the support act is Eleanor McEvoy and the last time I witnessed her singing live was 2 albums ago, then this journey was fully justified.I was lucky enough to obtain a copy of Eleanor's latest album - I'd Rather Go Blonde - a couple of months before the official release in September 2010. I was really into it within days of receipt but I had to put it down for a while because I was focussing my attention on another Dublin singer/songwriter who I believe deserves similar public recognition.Click here if you're curious
A couple of weeks ago I returned to Eleanor's latest album and fell in love with it all over again. Come the day of the show I was gagging for this gig , be it witnessing Eleanor as a support act or a main event, it didn't matter !
A few minutes before the gig , a couple sat down next to us. They too were Eleanor fans. I was asked what my favourite track was. "The lusty one with the tubular bells at the end of the track (Take You Home)" was my hasty reply, while gnawing away at the back of my mind was a kick-ass (kick the Catholic church in its present state) song, Deliver Me. Guess what for openers ? Two and a half years evaporated with the opening bars of the first song. I couldn't give a monkey's whether she was billed as support or not.
Happily, Eleanor's set was scheduled for far longer than the obligatory half an hour with an obvious weighting towards her current album, I'd Rather Go Blonde. I was absolutely mesmerised with the guitar and percussion looping on her delivery of Oh Uganda- (Video : Phillip Russell , taken at Birmingham's Glee Club)
Her violin was featured a little later in the set. Eleanor used it for 2 songs (Look Like Me and So Wrong) and an instrumental, each of the three saw her using a different way of playing. Add to the above her brilliant wit, exemplified in the way Eleanor sees Nick Lowe's I Knew The Bride from a female perspective, and I can't see any reason why she can't win over the hearts of the fans of the main act.
Just for the Tourists
If You Want Me to Stay (Sly & The Family Stone)
Take You Home
Look Like Me
(A couple of "Trad Arr" jigs - violin)
The Way You Wear Your Troubles
I Knew The Bride When She Used To Rock 'n' Roll (Nick Lowe)
As for the main act, I was the one who was navigating unchartered waters. The gig was billed as Dave Rotheray's Life Of Birds. Apart from The Beautiful South and a bit of co-writing on Eleanor's last 2 albums, that is where my knowledge, and indeed interest, had reached up to the night of the gig. Were it not for Eleanor , I would have given the event a miss. So enter stage Dave Rotheray , wearing a hat, coat & scarf, plus four band members: keyboard player, male lead vox, female lead vox and a percussionist whose paraphenalia could only be equalled by Duke Special's mate , Chip Bailey. Once settled , Dave utters, "I wrote this song while I had and ear infection , watching the birds in the back garden...it's all about the music industry (etc).... it's called The Sparrow , The Thrush & The Nightingale" Have I wasted my money ? was one of my first thoughts. My second thought was that I'd better not glance over to the missus for the nod of approval. As it turned out , it was a really catchy song, lyrically cohesive and vocals by Jim Causley & Bella Hardy blended perfectly. Each song therefater was described in a witty manner as the audience became increasingly immersed into the complete delivery of The Life of Birds album. Eleanor appeared as lead vox mid way through the set for Almost Beautiful , a sad song about a loved one suffering from Altzheimer's. Needless to say a copy of The Life of Birds CD made its way into my collection at the end of the show.
Eleanor , Bella & Jim along with an array of prominent musicians including Kathryn Williams and Eliza Carthy are listed amongst the co-writers. It should be a collecters piece for any discerning music fan.
Dave Rotheray - Guitar, vocals, narratives
Gary Hammond - Percussion (various)
Damon Butcher - Keyboard
Jim Causley - Lead Vocals, Accordian, Portable Xylophone and keyboard
Bella Hardy - Lead Vocals, Violin, Portable Xylophone, shakers
Eleanor McEvoy - Lead Vocals (guest)
FOOTNOTE I went to see Eleanor and The Dave Rotheray Band performing at Edge Hill Station, Liverpool a couple of days after this gig. There were a couple of changes from her Bury Met set. The most significant difference was that she changed from Fender to acoustic. Oh Uganda was even more impressive. There were also a couple of song changes. One noticable addition was a switch to keyboards for Harbour - for the intellectual, check the lyrics for the use of Harbour (verb) and Harbour(noun) !
A friend of mine (Mark Huddart) shot this video of Eleanor singing Almost Beautiful