The evening was kicked off by Jess Morgan, a local singer songwriter playing songs that tell stories about “women and men, life and death, work and play; the adventures of the real and the imaginary”, I quote from her website. She has, in my opinion, a gorgeously distinctive voice, one which I could have listened to for the whole evening, in fact! Her percussive guitar playing is all the accompaniment that her songs require – simple but effective. Memorable songs from the evening were 'The Missionary', 'Modern World' and 'Travelling Song', all beautiful examples of what she does.
Next up were Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin. Now, I hadn’t really listened anything by this duo before the gig, so I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I certainly wasn't disappointed! They have an amazing sound with influences from traditional British roots to Indian classical and American blues with instrumentation including the dobro, guitar, vocals and beatbox harmonica from Phillip Henry and fiddle, banjo and vocals from Hannah Martin. As I'm not too familiar with them, I unfortunately can't remember many of the names of the songs that they played, but I know for a fact that they played a version of Death and The Lady and it was incredible. I'm very familiar with the versions by both Bellowhead and James Findlay, and this was unlike anything I've heard before, in a very good way! Roughly during the middle of the set, Hannah Martin left the stage, leaving Phillip Henry to play a harmonica solo, which truly was incredible. It was a combination of what you might call 'normal' harmonica playing, with beatboxing and vocals, it got the previously sedate crowd bobbing up and down and clapping, which was excellent.
15 minutes later, Gilmore and Roberts began. Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts to be precise. They started with 'The Stealing Arm' with amazingly skilful lap tapping guitar playing from Roberts and mandolin from Gilmore. It is a brilliantly catchy song, a favourite of mine, about an arm transplant that goes terribly wrong. They then went straight into 'Seven Left for Dead' which again, included immaculate, precision playing on guitar and fiddle. In between songs, they told of Katriona's sat-nav theft when leading into 'Silver Screen' and humorous Halloween facts, as it was indeed the evening of Halloween. They ended with 'Scarecrow', the first track on their latest album (The Innocent Left), which is a brilliant song with forceful, dramatic playing from both. It seemed to me that the set was over too soon, they were fantastic, and fortunately the rest of the crowd thought so too – demanding an encore. They came back with 'Poison', a cover of Alice Cooper would you believe and the B-side to their single 'Doctor James' (out now), it worked amazingly well with guitar, mandolin and powerful vocal harmonies from both. A success all round I'd say.
Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin
Gilmore & Roberts