Library Theatre is an unassuming venue.
Tucked unsurprisingly behind Darwen Library in Lancashire it probably
enables the book building to stay alive despite the Governments best attempts
to close everyone in our country. It’s
180 capacity is relatively small, but the seated room with sloping back rows
holds a superb sound and one which many larger venues could learn from.
April was the latest in the venue’s long run of acoustic nights which boast a
headline act and a local talent. The
local tonight on this evening was C Jay (Craig Shorrock). A man with a guitar and a clearly local
accent took to the stage to play, amongst other things, tracks from his new EP entitled
1000 Lives. He clearly has a talent,
not only lyrically but instrumentally too.
He tells tales and recites memories that will linger. He is a joy to watch.
nine songs he dedicates to his daughter (Nota Bene – the line "You may mean
little to the world but you mean the world to me” is genius), his Dad
(Guiding Light) and his wife (1,000 Lives – a gorgeous song with a heartfelt
sentiment) and the cleverly entitled A Word’s Worth about Grasmere. C Jay is warmly received and someone to maybe
keep an ear on.
is the consummate professional. Entering
stage behind Laura McKinlay (who will soon display a stunning voice and equally
impressive fiddle playing), he wears jeans and a lumberjack shirt. He may need a haircut if the truth be known
and he looks like anyone you may pass in the street any day of any week.
apart from his undeniable knack of writing a cracking tune, is his connectivity
with is audience. He feels like a pal, like the lad next door, he makes everyone
laugh with his tales of everyday life and similarly gains a seal of approval
when he breaks into things that matter to us all.
Derry Gaol it’s clear that there is a very serious side to the cheeky Chester
born man. His many references to pal Ian
McNabb are funny but also affectionate, and his respect for The Icicles Works
frontman is clear. It is followed by a
great version of I Did It For Love (see review here) from 2014s Who Loves Ya
Baby) which sees McKinlay begin to shine.
unassuming, McKinlay adds a new light to each and every song with her
accomplished fiddle playing and her voice, when called upon is faultless. One such calling is on Mississippi Beat where
she sings a duet from Ian’s current album Companeros, one of seven tracks which
he sings in a seventeen track list.
The old Pele
and Amsterdam favourites are there too – Fireworks which he dedicates to a fan
who sadly passed away is greeted with a standing ovation from the family who
are present. Ian then dedicates the show
Heart is likened to the current reign of David Cameron and his Eton chums, and
the classic Raid The Palace is also included together with John Peel favourite
Does This Train Stop On Merseyside? You
Can’t Win Em All Mum is poignant and one of many highlights from the
may not be a household name but he should be, and with performances like the
one at Darwen and his strong reputation as a wonderful songsmith, maybe he may
just have another crack of the whip. He deserves it.
favourite sons return with their eighth studio album.
Wonder Stuff sound like The Wonder Stuff.
To try and describe their music to a newcomer is near impossible as to
try and draw any comparisons results in nothing. Since their debut album in 1986, they have
produced music that is unique in sound and style.
Goes Around The Sun, as the title suggests, marks thirty years in the
business. To be precise since the band
first walked into a recording studio and while the line-up has changed in part
due to the untimely deaths of bassist Rob Jones and drummer Mark McCarthy, the
clear effervescence has remained.
approaching 50 years old, frontman Miles Hunt can still belt out a tune or two
and although 30 Goes Around The Sun is no Eight Legged Groove Machine (1988) it
is clear from the openings of the albums intro (imaginatively called Intro)
that the band haven’t lost anything that made them so popular.
thing that sets the album apart is the inventive and skilful violin playing of
Erica Nockalls. A feature on almost
every track it adds a whole new dimension to the album and often gels tracks
together in the unlikeliest places when the album is sometimes bordering on
becoming a little too ‘middle-aged- man safe’.
You Ever blasts out powerful drums and guitars and, of course violin, whilst
Hunt sounds as he did all those years ago with his unmistakable vocals. It contains all the controlled aggression
that we are accustomed to and huge bundles of high energy and drive, and In
Clover, an album highlight, is classic Wonder Stuff.
hard to pinpoint what makes The Wonder Stuff so special but they manage to do
it, and whilst many artists are attempting comebacks and making very average
albums Miles and crew seem to have slotted back into the scheme of things very
easily. Maybe it’s the seemingly
constant touring of Hunt and Nockalls that keeps them grounded or maybe it’s
just an inbuilt youth and effervescence.
production by Simon Efemey (Napalm Death, Paradise Lost, The Wildhearts) is
spot-on and often reaches pinnacles which would be very easy to fall from. Instead the result is songs that are taken
quite literally as far as they could go before they would otherwise have descended
into complete over-production.
Deeds And Highs and One Day On offer poignant moments and prove that they
aren’t just one-trick ponies, and although the later of the two isn’t the
strongest track on the album, it does fit in well with its surroundings.
Affirmation sees the band rock it up and The Kids From The Green reflects on
childhood and the move into adult life and independence. The title track appears as album closer as it
almost recites a potted history of the band in a fitting end to a worthy
Song Has Its End: Sonic Dispatches From Traditional Mali (Glitterbeat Records)
+ DVD / CD + DVD / DL
Glitterbeat release the second volume in their
Hidden Music series.
The range and diversity of music currently
coming from Mali is quite immense. Music
that has influenced and become part of cultures all over the World, but more
importantly has revealed the incredible depth of talent that is to be heard from
Every Song Has Its End concentrates on tracks
from individual areas, regions and even villages as it presents music that is
both raw and unique. The unprecedented
growth of the country’s Capital, Bamako is sending the young people away to the
cities and as a consequence, the traditional life is moving slowly away. With it goes the music and the elders now
face difficulty in retaining their heritage.
Paul Chandler, a producer and educator has
documented the change in Malian music for the last decade and it is his
discovery of sounds that can be heard in this new compilation with accompanying
dvd. It is packed with twelve tracks
offering a wide variety of songs which underpin the Malian musical past.
Visiting towns and villages throughout Mali,
Chandler has revealed ‘endangered’ sounds which now have a chance to be preserved
and enjoyed by future generations giving stunning insights into the wealth of
Often, crude in the playing but never unskilful,
the tracks offer individual styles and techniques rarely heard today. Whether it be the drone-like Super Onze of
the hypnotic Mianka Cultural Troupe, each and every piece is as entertaining as
the last, and perhaps this isn’t to everyone’s taste but its education cannot
Sigui Le by the Nioguebougoula Cultural Troupe
goes one step further and has the audience intermingle with the performers to
create a stunning, layered recording and Group Ekanzam bring hauntingly
beautiful sounds to the mix.
An album that has to be heard to be
appreciated, and indication of a musical journey which has only just begun.