||[Nov. 29th, 2014|10:37 pm]
Last night's gig was Nancy Kerr and the Sweet Visitor band - that is, the band put together to play material from her album of songs she had written herself. We had booked on the basis that I had enjoyed her contribution to the 'Full English' project (including a song of her own composing), and anyway we hadn't been getting to many gigs lately.
In other words, I had no particular expectations - but I wasn't expecting the full folk-rock experience, the drums, the bass, the words lost in the music. We were sitting near the front, and the lights shining down onto the front of the stage dazzled my eyes, and that probably increased my grouchiness. At the intermission, durham_rambler talked to the sound-and-lights people at the back of the hall, and they very kindly killed the light that was causing the problem: I wonder whether anyone noticed that the lighting was more moody in the second half? I liked it better, quite apart from the fact that it didn't hurt my eyes. But I 'watched' much of the first half with my eyes closed, which can't have helped. A fragment of conversation expresses the problem:
durham_rambler: I could hardly hear the banjo on that one.
Me: I didn't realise she [Rowan Rheinghans] was playing banjo until I opened my eyes...
About three songs in, though, I was reminded what had brought me here:
Apollo on the Docks was written for a 'Radio Ballad' about the Olympics; later we also heard a second piece from the same commission, The Bunting and the Crown. I loved that, asked to write a song taking a positive view of the Olympic legacy, the best Nancy Kerr could come up with was 'won't it be lovely when it's over!'
There's a surprising absence of video of the band. We were at the last concert of their tour, but all I can find is tracks from the album accompanied by a cover shot. This doesn't come close to capturing the atmosphere of the live performance, even if the sound balance is very much more to my taste.
The other stand-out song for me was (I think) Broadside, which opened the second half. This was the number on which James Fagan got in touch with his inner rock god - and, as he explained later, this is why:
The music was written and originally performed by Martin Simpson and John Smith. His only option was to play it completely differently. (And I'd like a round of applause, please, for managing to search out a piee of folk music called 'Broadside' from among all the many broadsides).
The short version: not everything about the evening worked for me, but one ot two things I liked very much.