Monday 17 November 2014


Live review

Newhampton Folk Club

If you want some idea of what Gerry Colvin is like live then imagine Lonnie Donegan on Prozac mixed in with the manic gesticulations of Lee Evans and the languid movements of Emo Philips.

Trish Keelan, Gerry Colvin and Lyndon Webb
at the Newhampton Folk Club
Along with a great talent for music and an unstoppable string of stories and observations it makes him a great entertainer with a personality almost too big for the packed upper room of the Newhampton Inn, Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton.
Colvin is an engaging raconteur and spent much of the time between his enthralling songs claiming he would not do the very thing he was doing, talking.
The rest of the band was made up by three excellent musicians Lyndon Webb, who also plays with The Jigantics and Sons of the Delta, on guitar, Trish Keelan on accordion and Jerome Davies on double bass. Colvin has been around for years, is lauded on both sides of the Atlantic and his musical style straddles the folk, country, jazz and Americana genres. He has, been on the music scene for more than four decades and has built up an endless stream of anecdotes, tall tales and bizarre stories any or all of which may or may not be true.
Colvin has the feel of an old time bandleader who oversees proceedings and he knows how to work an audience. He obviously enjoys himself on stage and has almost a childlike enthusiasm for everything he does which eventually becomes infectious.
His act does have a touch of the travelling circus about it with tracks from Le Chat Noir sounding Go and Ask Somebody Else. In fact his versatility is seemingly endless moving to folkier songs such as Alcohol and Me and switching yet again to the Latin beat of South American Dream.
There were easier sounding ballads such as The Day After the Day which sounded a lot like The Beatles' She's Leaving Home.
Gerry Colvin
He tells a great story about the Black Lion Hotel, Newquay which is supposedly haunted by two ghosts, the background story of which you will have to find out from one of his shows. The tale preceded The Ghosts of the Black Lion Hotel which has a seafaring atmosphere given to it by the bellows of Keelan.
His chatter does get a little a surreal at times when he's talking about ducks and space shuttles and so do the songs with odd titles such as I'm Postponing My Rehab Until Tomorrow which was a parody of a country and western song for the modern times then there is the lounge sound of The Ninth Song which is simply about a song which is ninth in a listing and which comes across like something from a West End musical.
At times Colvin, originally from Barrow in Furness, is pure theatre but he does get serious too but without getting heavy with songs such as The House of the Setting Sun which is about mental illness and how it's treated in society.
With Dirt from his CQV album which is on the subject of charity shops he brings the sound of Richard Thompson's Vincent Black Lightning but has the sort of lyrics you would associate with Woody Guthrie.
He also slips in biting lyrics amongst lighter sounding tunes with songs such as South London Gangs.
Johnny Cash's Shirt is one which will feature on his forthcoming album Six of One and Half a Dozen of the Other and which, not surprisingly, is done in Cash's country style.
With The Bell there was a distinct Seth Lakeman feel to both the lyrics and the hammering beat.
Towards the end he got all romantic with One More Week and for his encore he came back with Dylan Thomas' Pen again from his latest album.
Colvin is an incredible showman, an impressive musician, a clever wordsmith and a great raconteur and if you could say just one thing about him, it's that you certainly get your money's worth.

Pete Shirley and Esther Brennan

Esther Brennan & Pete Shirley
One of the marvellous things about small venue folk clubs such as the Newhampton is they are great places to cut your teeth, try new ventures and make mistakes.
With the support act of Pete Shirley and Esther Brennan, neither of which are new to the circuit, the audience saw what could be the birth of a successful pairing.
Shirley has been to the Newhampton at least three times and each time the gentle-voiced balladeer has been well received.
This was the first time he had appeared with fellow Stokie Brennan and the nerves and unfamiliarity with playing together did show a little, but underneath it was still possible to tell Brenann has a strong clear voice with a good range.
There was an imbalance in the sound levels where Brennan was a little overpowering, but this said they do have two voices which complement each other and blend nicely and it's most definitely something with which they should persevere.
Shirley has his first full album coming out about February.

The Mike Harding Folk Show

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