Live From Old York: Mysore Brothers, Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick, Dr. Feelgood, Jesca Hoop & Chicken Shack
As well as being an historical delicacy, this gig was very much rooted in the now. Not because of the repertoire, but rather, due to the still-vibrant rapport between the twosome. Actually, when they first began the set (it was heresy to consider this), were those arcane rhythms bordering on the avant folk realms, or were Carthy and Swarbrick simply connecting in a slightly ramshackle fashion? It was probably a combination of both factors.
In Swarbrick's case it didn't really matter, as his involved melodic progressions were so impressively ambitious that we could forgive any sketchiness around the edges. His phrases often implied one thought in the middle of racing off to the next idea, dazzling with the pace of their development. The audience was privy to every possible permutation, from duo song, to lonesome Carthy, then some solo Swarbrick instrumental odysseys.
The solo Carthy highlight was "Willie's Lady," a dark, epic tale (aren't they all?) of poisoned pregnancy, its lengthy verses tripping across a convoluted guitar pattern. This was a prime example of a certain spell of tension that seemed to pervade the old church rafters on repeated occasions during the night's two sets. Positive tension is an advantageous quality most associated with free improvisation. The duo succeeded in suspending a sense of unpredictability over what amounted to around two and a half hours of largely compelling songcraft. They were completely relaxed and informal, addressing the crowd casually, and joking with each other at a rapid-fire rate. Swarbrick in particular could exist in a parallel world of stand-up comedy, so sharp (yet rambling) is his sense of goblin wit. The best example of this was the wandering anecdote that preceded "The Lemon Tree," about smuggling said fruit from Down Under in an appropriately down-under location. The tune itself was well worth the wait.
September 27, 2012
When a band eventually features none of its original members, does it still qualify as being that band? When Dr. Feelgood's singer and co-founder Lee Brilleaux died in 1994, he apparently instructed his three rockaboogie henchmen to continue handing out their seedy prescriptions. Here in 2012, they remain committed, having inducted their 'newest' singer Robert Kane a mere 13 years ago.
York's long-established rock venue, Fibbers has benefited from a recent re-design, now looking like it can fittingly conduct DJ/electronica nites (indeed, such dates are now part of its program). Gone is the beery interior of old, although the Feelgood crowd were visibly set on christening the fresh space with their froth. For a band that are teetering dangerously on the edge of being a tribute combo, Feelgood had pulled in a strong gathering. There is a limbo zone where certain players are more qualified to address old repertoires, assuming there's a strong connection. Jazz rules come into operation, and rock rules are suspended.
This is a band whose guitarist (Phil Mitchell) and drummer (Kevin Morris) spent the best part of a decade on the road with Brilleaux prior to his early demise. Bass man Steve Walwyn had at least five years in this company, and singer Kane now has the tough task of emulating the old leader's front man presence. With his wiry post-Jagger posturings, Kane stabbed out into the crowd, delivering the necessary swagger alongside Mitchell's often rather savage guitar explosions. Kane also blew a rugged harmonica when strategically required. The initial strafe included "Milk And Alcohol," "She's A Wind Up" and Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love?," which is some testament to the general momentum, established from the very onset.
September 27, 2012
A swift one-minute stroll around the corner, and it was down the stairs of The Duchess, with these two venues situated very conveniently close to each other. The atmosphere for singer- songwriter Jesca Hoop's gig couldn't have been more different. The audience was generally much younger, more evenly divided between the sexes, and tables were set out cabaret- style. Silence reigned as the gathering diligently absorbed the Californian's every subtlety. This always gets mentioned as her calling card, but Hoop first garnered attention as a nanny for the offspring of Tom Waits. The old grumbler recommended her (as an artist as well as a tot-trainer), and that was sufficient impetus for immediate curiosity. Hoop has been residing in Manchester, England, for the last four years, but isn't yet showing signs of any transatlantic adaptation process.