Okay … come 8pm and we were still a bit thinned out along the benches with those empty cushions, laid out ready, grinning through. So we busied ourselves getting a sound-check with me and my minimal paraphernalia nonetheless beginning to wonder if perhaps I was being a bit precious with my own little tonal-centre going on; Chris worked on the monitor whilst handing the rig over to Clive for the evening and the missing links slotted into place. And it felt right as I opened with a couple of James Taylor songs to proffer some open-handed, contemporary-folk, sort of vibe before introducing Lance up to perform a couple of his own songs, laterally -- 'Space Traveler …' and 'A Very Hungry Caterpillar' setting the scene for a couple more originals from Chris. This time it was: 'Another Lonely Man' and 'Life Sentence Past' before he was joined by Heather on 'Norwegian Wood' and then moved over by 'A Million Dreams' on which Heather played guitar, in full flourish; pink-on-Pink in a picture of health whilst recuperating from a recent op – nice to see.
Another male/female duo ensued, quite different this time: Bob and Cristy-Lee with their own thing which, although difficult to define, was very interesting in that, once again, it proved to be another case of you never know quite who is going to turn up at these creatively open spaced, contemporary and often eclectic, evenings – so I'll be candid. Bob announced their first piece as 'Penultimate Song' so I don't know what it was called but whilst it was very long, it was also very, very good in its fastidious attention to detail in a gently applied kind of club soft focus. And we were silently captivated throughout. Obviously enough, 'The Second Song' followed on … some evocative imagery befitting this close humid summer's night ensued, taking us through previous eras of Havana and Guevara revolutionary chic, tempered by an underlying cold-war fire-and-ice subjective muse. Okay, I was flagging a bit by then but it left an aftertaste which carried over to the next day.
And as I write this, reflectively, their performance was still very much with me, leaving me wanting to be immersed in more of the same as if I'd just got back from Ronnie Scott's the night before [and I've been doing that, on-and-off, since I was 17 in the 60s so the more I think on it, it was somehow transcendental with the atmospherics and time-and-place parallel realities]. But, time out, I don't want to be over-analytical about it as I hope they will come back soon having whetted our collective appetite for imaginative their otherness [consensus].
Time to get Mark settled in and slope off for some much needed filter coffee. When I got back from the bar he was singing Jackson C. Frank's 'Blues Run The Game'; another atmospheric piece so I went for a splash [not a typo …] returning, refreshed and up for it: Neil Young's “The Needle And The Damage Done” – well, there you go, stimuli revisited.
And then some reassuring maturity in continuum as Clive preceded Simon in the chill-chain of frisson and eventualities; Zerox [alter-ego], in his patronizing cognitive dissonance often used to make a point of willfully confusing these two men until he finally realized that people were beginning to blank it out as just more self-aggrandizing white noise. Out-of-toner … it was unfair. However, there are the similarities of simplicity, in a good way, with these guys. Clive gave us 'Summertime Blues' and a nicely Mediitteranean uplift with 'Non Ho L'eta', so there was absolutely nothing nominally predictable about him all at all, tonight. And Simon, also on a slight detour, gave us 'Lifetime Blues in “C”' as penned, shelved and resurrected from the pen [bin] of wife Leslie, after 'Meet Me On The Corner' in which he had dialed down the charisma [simulated reverberation] happy to let the room run the game on his own bluesy English terms.
The next leg of the journey began with Jason and one of his favourite guitars [Lisa's Martin] playing 'Any Major Dude Will Tell You' from 1973s Pretzel Logic – classic early Steel Dan preceding Chris Martin's documented 'AJA' 'T' shirt chronologically [as worn by Chris last time] – It's an incredibly well structured song, beguiling in its simplicity as a harbinger of what was to come from them as a studio band; songwriting duo with a team of regular great session-players upping the musical arrangements. Joni Mitchell followed this template and I LOVE all of it!
Jason was joined by Lisa to sing Jimmy Page's 'Tangerine' and 'Georgia …' before Keith came up with Helga and her flute for their arrangement of Keith's 'Baby Steps' and another, this time more rhythmic/less rubato, original in 'I'm in Love With This [Scottish] Island', affectionately rendered as it was, it sounded great with its reggae undertones. Helga was then joined by Lisa returning with the reclaimed Martin guitar for Sandy Denny's 'Who Knows Where the Time Goes' – indeed. Very near the end, Ella arose from the wings with her acoustic guitar to give us a couple of [pre-73] Joni numbers; 'Chelsea Morning' and 'Creasy' I think it was entitled [I'm not familiar with that one so forgive me if I misheard it], it was, in any event, nice to hear these uncluttered, naturalistic era Mitchell songs from the Montreal-through-Greenwich-Village coffee bars era of the early singer/songwriter era across the pond but so nicely intoned to the swinging 60s of London – Often, I feel that I was born to misplaced geo-politically, but I got it from a distant TV and I was here in the second-person-narrative of it!
Anyway, by happenstance, Fred the poet was on hand in a very timely ultimatum – Fred recited his true story about ‘not knowing [he] could fly until he had to [fly]’, to see us out concluding with Cooper-Clarke's existential 'Suspended Sentence' – Democratically tongue-in-cheek, I think they should make Fred our new foreign ambassador to Don.
Okay; CD slotted in, windows wound down – lights! I hit the road happy in the knowledge that the chill-chain had indeed been more than adequately checked out in its linkage to that night in what turned out to be a joined up, eclectic evening for all concerned.
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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