Jul 22 2018

Doug MacLeod, Friday 20th July 2018

Friday 20th July 2018 The Live Room, Saltaire. Both long awaited rain and veteran Bluesman Doug MacLeod came to visit. Both were very welcome and greatly appreciated by a very rapt Live Room audience. Guitar and Blues buffs from far and wide made the journey to see this legend (Doug not the rain!).


Safe statement to say that everyone left very happy and upbeat from the night’s show, great songs, great playing, great stories and great humour, what more could you ask on a Friday night?


Words and photos by Keith Belcher, and thanks also to our old friend from Wales, Andrew Hawkey (pictured), who came to visit and did a lovely intro for Doug!

Jul 16 2018

Earl Thomas: The Celtic Blues and Gospel Ensemble, Thursday 12th July 2018

Thursday July 12th 2018, The Live Room, Saltaire. The debut performance of the Celtic Blues and Gospel Ensemble put together by Greig Taylor and Earl Thomas Bridgeman for the 2018 Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival .
Lets skip to the end of the show. The atmosphere on a balmy Yorkshire night was akin to people leaving a really upbeat Tent Revival Gospel meeting full of that inner light and good feelings that can be released at such events. Fair to say that most everyone felt very upbeat after a superb evening’s entertainment. A huge queue at the Merch table, longer than I have ever seen at The Live Room. Why?

Well, The Live Room was chosen by Earl Thomas to debut this show. Put together by Earl and Scottish vocalist Greig Taylor to perform well known Gospel songs as though (Earls words) the slaves and the slave owners got together to have a jam session. Earl sporting a reddish streak in his hair, as homage to his Scottish roots (and Rod Stewart) explained said roots. Over 200 years ago a slave owner from Scotland John Bridgeman moved to Bledsoe County, Tennessee and fell in love with a lady slave named Delphea. They had 18 children, from that line came Earl Thomas’s parents.

Earl wanted to retell the Gospel songs with the aid of Scottish ‘cousins’. Earl asked Greig if he knew suitable musicians. Silly question to anyone with an inkling of the current Scottish music scene. Greig came back with vocalists Gerad McArthur and Kris Boobyer, guitarist Sandy Tweedale, drummer Dave Cantwell, bassist Lorna Thomas and Gill Hunter on keys and accordion. Their first rehearsal was on July 11th and debut show at the Live Room was the 12th and what a joyous sound they made. It was a sold out, packed house. Doors were a little late but I think everyone found the short wait very, very worthwhile.


The show started with Amazing Grace, probably one of the best known Gospels songs as an instrumental. The stage starting with only Lorna, Gill and Sandy. As other band members entered this segued into Woman at The Well. With 4 vocalists all sporting suits and ties the show started at serious pace and continued like that for the entire night. Earl took the lead on all song intros and stories. He is a superb showman. The Revivalist feel had hit Saltaire on a Thursday night. The music provided by Lorna, Gill, Sandy and Dave was immaculately tight yet free flowing and fresh. A different feel on what were relatively well known gospel songs enhanced by Sandy’s masterful guitars, switching from Electric Fender to a borrowed 1929 National Steel and an acoustic at times also. Lorna playing a 5 stringed electric bass as well as the upright bass, Gill playing keys and accordion and Dave keeping a fantastic rhythm and beat with drums.

Bluesy, jazzy gospel with soul. The music was flawless and it looked so effortless. The band seemed to having a great time. All vocalists were superb showmen. Despite the limited space we had synchronised dance moves, the audience fed off this and were quite ecstatic, towards the end all standing, clapping, singing and swaying as per regulatory Revival Tent meetings. Your medication possibly needed examination if something wasn’t moving or trying to move.


Songs performed during the night were favourites of Earls as performed on his 2006 CD Gospel Plantation. Songs featured included Joshua Fit The Battle , Will The Circle Be Unbroken , When We All Get To Heaven, Glory Glory. Only Greig’s performance of None Of Us Are Free is not featured on the CD. What was unfamiliar was the sheer power of delivery and performance of the songs. One of the very best Live Room shows ever. As is the way all great things must come to an end . Last Mile Of The Way paved the way for a vocal encore of This Little Light Of Mine , sung by all band members. A twist at the end in homage to Scotland being the entrance of a lone piper from the back of the room echoing the refrain of the song. Definitely not something you see at most Revival meetings.


This show was so good it was sad it had to end BUT I am informed that the Edinburgh shows will be pro filmed with 8 cameras and multitrack sound so hopefully the shows will be available later in the year – I really hope so. Anyone in or near Edinburgh this weekend should check them out.

Review and photos by Keith Belcher

Jul 10 2018

Orphan Colours, Friday 15th June 2018

Friday 15th June 2018, The Live Room, Saltaire. Orphan Colours with Benjamin William Pike opening the show.

There have been quite a few sell out shows at The Live Room this year. This one had a good crowd but really should have been sold out way in advance. Some reviewers hint that Orphan Colours are the neighbourhood super group that few know about. A few more at Saltaire know about them now.

The night’s opener was Lincoln born, Leeds resident Benjamin William Pike. So far two albums to his name Being & Nothingness (2013) and Burdensome Year (2017). Both have been highly praised and rightly so. Burdensome Year details a traumatic time before, during and after a recent life saving kidney transplant. Benjamin opened with an intricate, beautifully played and sung Skip James song “Hard Time Killing Floor”. This gave the audience a taste of the quality in store as the night unwound. Well crafted and executed songs with husky vocals reminiscent of early John Martyn at his best and a cascading guitar that brought Martin Simpson to mind. Influences are listed as Django Reinhardt, Davey Graham , Kelly Joe Phelps as well as Martin Simpson. Benjamin performed material from Burdensome Year as well as two unreleased songs. His great set closed with “City Living”.

Orphan Colours are London based and have been together for about 3 years. Two CD EPs and a full debut album to date. They comprise Steven Llewellyn , Dave Burn and bassist Graham Knight, all ex Ahab. Lead guitarist Fred Abbott from Noah and The Whale and drummer Steve Brookes from Danny & The Champions of The World. For those needing labels then probably British Americana with a good dollop of soul and West Coast. Gambling seems a strong element in the band, the CD EP “High Hopes” and the album “All On The Red” reflecting the gambles taken with the band. This was high octane Americana rock from the opening soaring guitar notes of “Free” segueing into “Start of Something”.

Superb tightness in song construction and delivery, excellent harmonies and at times triple guitar interplay in the best Eagles/Byrds style, all backed by brilliant bass and drums. Still not allowing the audience to catch their breath a slick intro to “Renegade” and on the pace relentlessly continued. Eventually the audience got breathing time with a more laid back “Lonely Lately”. The night whistled past with an occasional trip into Ahab’s back catalogue . There was some seriously blistering Paul Kossoff style guitar from Fred during “Sun Is Rising” as well as a potentially anthemic “High Hopes” with a lot of audience participation, just so suitable for festivals. Final song proper before the encore pantomime was a tip to their West Coast influences with the very popular “Goodnight California”, echoes of The Eagles were very evident.

The inevitable encore paid homage to another influence with a very Tom Petty-esque “Won’t Let You Down”. All too quickly the show was over. I said earlier the show should have been sold out. I seriously hope the Live Room gets another chance to sell out but I strongly suspect that this band could be playing far larger venues in the near future. They certainly have the songs, musicianship, sound and the potential. A great night was had by all.

Words and photos by Keith Belcher

Pre Show Interviews

Interview with Rob & Molly of BCB Radio's Into The Buttercup

Jun 16 2018

The Maes, Sunday 10th June 2018

The Maes were absolutely astonishing and justified our chasing them for nearly four years. Beautiful songs, wonderful playing and arrangements, and truly spine-tingling harmonies left the audience shaking their heads at the sheer talent of this Australian trio. We’re already talking to their management about a return in 2019, when we confidently expect a full house. Watch this space!

Many thanks to Gillian Harrison for the photos.

Jun 5 2018

Heidi Talbot & John McCusker, Friday 1st June 8pm

What a sublime evening of music we were treated to on Friday from Heidi Talbot and John McCusker, accompanied by Innes White and special guest, Adam Holmes.

Yet another sell out crowd were there to hear superb vocals and musicianship from the quartet on the very first date of a 25 stop tour, promoting Heidi and John’s new EP, ‘Love Is A Bridge Between Two Hearts’. Huge thanks to them and to everyone who came along and made it another brilliant night.

Jun 4 2018

John Jones & The Reluctant Ramblers, Friday 25th May 2018

Friday 25th May 2018, The Live Room Saltaire and another sold out show, this time with John Jones & The Reluctant Ramblers. The not so reluctant ramblers on stage with instruments and voices were John Jones on main vocals and accordion, Al Scott, guitar, bouzouki and upright bass; Tim Cotterell, Fiddle, Mandolin; Rowan Godel, vocals, guitar; Lindsey Oliver, stand-up bass and guitar, vocals and Boff Whalley, guitar, vocals and jokes.

The rambling during the day certainly did not detract from the amount of energy and enjoyment on display during a great performance that had some of the crowd off their chairs onto the specially cleared dance space. The audience were invited to join the continuing ramble the following morning at 0900…..

Words and photos: Keith Belcher

May 22 2018

Gilmore & Roberts and Jake Morley

Another wonderful night of the best in acoustic music here at TLR last Friday, with a double bill featuring Gilmore & Roberts and Jake Morley. It seems strange to think that we had to go to Kansas City to get the show organised, but that’s what happened! Here are some photos of the show courtesy of Gillian Harrison.


May 16 2018

TLR 6th Birthday Show, with Birds of Chicago, Sunday May 13th 2018

Sunday 13th May 2018. The Live Room, Saltaire welcomed Birds of Chicago for a return visit and very popular they were too putting on a great show and contributing greatly to birthday celebrations. This time they were with a full band. It was the 6th birthday for The Live Room, seems like only yesterday that Jackie Oates opened proceedings on 4th May 2012.

Words and photos: Keith Belcher


Pre Show Interviews

Interview with Rob & Molly of BCB Radio's Into The Buttercup

May 16 2018

A voice from The Chorus!

So there I was: on my way to the loo having been listening to an exquisite first set from Birds of Chicago when I stopped to listen to what Hilary was saying on stage. She was talking about it being the club’s sixth birthday and ended up with the announcement that she and Ron had decided to make a gift of six free tickets, one for each year to the person who had been to the most gigs. To my utter disbelief Hilary then read my name out and called me on stage. I was dumbfounded, speechless. If I’d had the nous to say anything this is what I’d have said:

‘Having come to the Live Room more or less since it started, I can recall the times when there were around 40 people spread thinly across the room listening to music that was new to most of us. These were trying times for the club and it took quite a while to establish. Look at the change now: packed audiences fighting for seats in what could be described as a community of music-lovers.

The style of music might change from one week to the next but the quality does not: high-quality performers setting the scene alight. Between them Ron and Hilary have saved the Caroline Street club from extinction and  changed its way of working. They have developed the club through the ‘Chorus’ and website and last year rightly won a Yorkshire award for music eventing.

Having spent much of my life hovering around music events and clubs, this is undoubtedly the best club I’ve ever been to. The welcome is great, Ron’s sound engineering is now legendary and Hilary keeps the organisation sweet through her hard work and empathetic input. I trust their judgement about bands implicitly and always look forward to the next gig. My free tickets will all be used, no doubt, so thank you Ron and Hilary and happy birthday the Live Room.’

Alun Pelleschi