Dec 14 2021

A Bright New Year: The Melrose Quartet

Sunday 12th December 2021

Photographs and review by Keith Belcher

A Bright New Year with The Melrose Quartet. Sheffield based Melrose Quartet are Jess & Richard Arrowsmith and Nancy Kerr and James Fagan. All dressed in festive finery and sweltering on what was a very unseasonably warm night, contributing on vocals to the glorious harmonies and between them playing violin, viola, melodeon, bazouki and guitar. The room was bedecked with Christmas lights and huge baubles as well as a Christmas tree on stage left.

Hilary and Ron welcomed everyone with what has become a traditional Live Room Christmas Show tradition with copious amounts of free sherry, mince pies and chocolates. The show was a sell out albeit restricted to all seating in deference to social distancing and audience and venue concerns.

Our “leader” was making his TV announcement midway through set 1 but the audience was, as usual, way ahead of him. Almost everyone turned up wearing face masks and I have no doubt they were also double and triple jabbed as well. Despite the precautions you really couldn’t get a more Chrismassy feel to a show than that produced by the soaring harmonies of The Melrose Quartet.

No one would deny there was a party atmosphere and there were also games and quizzes on the night. On the Christmas tree at the side of the stage were 6 red and 6 white baubles with numbers on. These were selected throughout the show by randomly picked audience members. These were for the Rudolph variations. 12 versions of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer but done to totally different tunes. A lot harder than it sounds. The audience had to identify the tune. I admit to being abysmal at said task but one group (conferring was allowed and took place , no one will deny that) scored 10 out of 12 and won a Chocolate Santa. A similar prize was given to the most memorable festive woollies.

The majority of the nights music was from the new CD THE RUDOLPH VARIATIONS , some traditional Sheffield Carols and modern classics by the likes of Si Kahn and Robb Johnson. They did stress that it wasn’t a CD full of Rudolph versions. The encore was a very rousing We Wish You A Merry Christmas. Let’s all hope for that and a Bright New Year in 2022.

It was great of the band to pay tribute to Ron and Hilary and the staff of TLR for keeping the faith and keeping the music alive during the last 2 years. I would like to also thank Ron and Hilary for continuing to do what they do so well. We are very lucky to have the club.

Dec 2 2021

Son of Town Hall

Sunday 28th November 2021

Photos and review by Keith Belcher

Sunday 28th November 2021, The Live Room, Caroline Street Social Club, Saltaire. The very welcome return visit of the intrepid mariners that are Son Of Town Hall, aka Englishman George Ulysses Brown (Ben Parker) and American Josiah Chester Jones (David Berkeley). Playing their first live show together in 2 years they went down a storm( probably not the most apt or best phrase for mariners!), clad in Victorian garb, singing in sibling type harmony with great guitar work and stories to match. Some dates left on their tour. Catch them if you can

Dec 2 2021

Lady Maisery

Friday 26th November 2021

Photos and review by Keith Belcher

Friday 26th November 2021, The Live Room, Caroline Street Social Club, Saltaire. A return visit of Lady Maisery, usually a trio but owing to Hazel Askew coming down with a bug (thankfully NOT that one!) we had a duo performance from Rowan Rheingans and Hannah James. It was only on Thursday evening that plans had to be altered and a decision made to put on a duo show. Obviously a stressful time for all concerned. Full marks to Rowan and Hannah for rapidly creating and rehearsing a set list which comprised not only some vintage and forthcoming Lady Maisery material but collaborations on both Rowan and Hannah’s solo catalogues. They are both very busy outside the Lady Maisery performances. Judging from the audience responses this probably unique show worked really well and was greatly enjoyed by both artists and audience. Get well soon Hazel and well done Rowan and Hannah.

Nov 17 2021

The Breath plus support Boo Sutcliffe

Sunday 14th November 2021

Photos and review by Keith Belcher

Sunday 14th November 2021 The Live Room Caroline Street Social Club, Saltaire. The Breath: Ríoghnach Connolly, vocals, flute and Stuart McCallum, vocals, guitars and some electronic wizardry, with support Boo Sutcliffe.

Another excellent all seated restricted capacity crowd that had been sold out well in advance of the night. Superb opening from Huddersfield resident Boo Sutcliffe leading into The Breath.

There is an Irish word that sums up the night. I’ll quote that and list some of the comments on various Facebook pages and the pictures will speak for themselves. The music was superb and Ríoghnach had the most wicked laugh I have heard for many a year. Craic (Irish, noun) pronounced krak: fun and entertainment, especially good conversation and company.

Comments lifted from Facebook. The Breath: Amazing welcome, fantastic live sound, wall of fame, top quality banter! Well Done Saltaire! Thanks for having us Ron & Hilary!

Steve Lacey: Fekin awesome gig last night! Amazing voice, fantastic guitar playing🙂 Agree the live sound FOH was class. Pauline Booth: Thanks for a wonderful show and can’t wait to see you again soon! Ali Bassett: Truly awesome gig last night, thank you so much for the beautiful music, those lucky Belgians are in for a treat 😁Here’s hoping one day you’ll get your photos up on that soft focus hall of fame…😉 Thanks also to the organisers, first time at the Live rooms – what a great venue & live sound.

Rose Bowman: Such a great evening. Amazing music. Lovely to meet you. Mike Latham: Sunday evening was another visit to The Live Room in Saltaire to witness a new duo to us – The Breath. No doubt we shall see them again, a roaring success with the audience.

Pauline Booth: It was a brilliant night! Boo Sutcliffe: The faceless singer. I had a blast last night supporting The Breath – who were superb. Singing to a full-house of attentive music-lovers is a joy; you could hear a pin drop all night, except for the howls of laughter at Ríoghnach’s stream of consciousness and tall tales. Thanks to Ron and Hilary and all at The Live Room at Saltaire. They were kind and sensible (for these times) hosts. TLR: Thanks for a great set Boo!

Nov 9 2021

Chris Helme

Sunday 7th November 2021

Photos and review by Keith Belcher

Sunday 7th November 2021, The Live Room, Saltaire: Chris Helme, solo with one acoustic guitar, making his long overdue TLR debut. Being heard singing in the bath got him his first line up in the band Chutzpah, having heard his voice I can see why. Best known for his adventures with the band The Seahorses between 1996 and 1999, he auditioned for that job after being seen and heard busking outside Woolworths in York. During that time he and the band supported the likes of Oasis, U2 and The Rolling Stones. Between 1999 and 2009 he performed solo and with The Yards. Since 2009 he has been mainly a solo performer.

I admit knowing next to nothing about the indie scene of the 90’s but I was very impressed with Chris’s performance at TLR. During the sound check it was very noticeable just what a great voice he had. I can’t recall many people having that powerful a voice and I don’t mean the type of histrionics favoured by The Voice, X Factor etc. While setting up Chris requested a small table on stage a la the late Dave Allen, he favoured glasses of wine and water rather than Dave’s whiskey. He didn’t actually tell any jokes about the Pope but did sit on a tall stool and sip his drink in between songs and anecdotes in a very laid back manner.

He is a very natural raconteur, having the audience in stitches with his between song stories about all sorts, not just the song intros but his various office jobs. He could just have easily have performed a stand-up routine on a comedy night judging from the laughs and excellent delivery. We did get a few seconds of a George Formby version of Love Is The Law, much singing along from the audience.

Two sets, opening with Hello from Seahorses times. Songs performed on the night were a mixture of The Seahorses and The Yards as well as much of his own solo material . There was also a liberal peppering of covers of The Faces, Paul Simon , Nina Simone and the Doors. A stomping version of The Doors Five To One segueing into Be Your Husband as the encore, the audience being fully engaged in clapping and chorus duties. A different atmosphere in The Live Room tonight with a relatively younger audience than is usual, many making their first visit. I don’t think it was just the songs and his history that drew his fans to The Live Room, excellent though his performance was. He seemed to have an astonishing rapport with the crowd knowing many of them and it took an age for him to get to the Merch desk, so many wanted to chat to him. I for one, really hope we see him at TLR again in the near future.

Nov 3 2021

Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage

Sunday 31st October 2021

Photos by Keith Belcher

The second show of the weekend was another night of beautiful music from one of our favourite duos, Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage from Cambridgeshire. Superb songs harmonies and musicianship all delivered through one microphone created a haunting soundscape. Just signed to the legendary Topic Records, keep a look out for their new album, due for release next April.

Oct 31 2021

The Little Unsaid

Plus support from The Silver Reserve

Friday 29th October 2021

Photos and review by Keith Belcher

The Little Unsaid are:

John Elliott (guitar, keyboards, main vocals)

Mariya Brachkova (synths, keys & backing vocals)

Alison D’Souza (strings)

Tim Heymerdinger (drums & backing vocals)

A superb short but stunning opening set from local songsmith The Silver Reserve. Very intriguing lyrics that caught many of the crowds attention. I heard and saw a few people discussing his lyrics after his set. It was difficult to believe that The Little Unsaid had not done a real, live , in front of people gig for 2 years. If this was warming up then the crowds later on in the tour are going to be really blown away. To me they were firing on all cylinders throughout. One of the liveliest shows I’ve seen at TLR. Catch them if you can.

Oct 24 2021

Spiers & Boden

Friday 22nd October 2022

Review and photos by Keith Belcher

The first full house for The Live Room for over 18 months. The first duo tour of John Spiers and Jon Boden since 2014, the juggernaut that was Bellowhead kind of ruled their lives for a while after that. Jon played TLR solo in June this year doing two sold out socially restricted shows which were also streamed and were superb. John was last at TLR pre “you know what” with Peter Knight’s Gigspanner Big Band on 1st December 2019, that was also a fantastic night. Tonight the support was Lady Nade who had also appeared at TLR opening for the fabulous Yola in May 2019, that really seems a lifetime or more ago . That also was a stupendous show. OK, a pattern of superb, fantastic and stupendous shows emerges and Friday lived up to that pattern.

Lady Nade opened with a very self assured set, taking songs from her 5 albums to date starting with Natalie from her 2019 album Safe Place. An as yet unreleased song Jess(I think) from a forthcoming album also featured in her short but very well appreciated set, her poetic lyrics , melodies and delivery brought a few oohs and aahs from an audience that was probably majority standing but very attentive and respectful.

Described as eclectic Americana, her song and poem writings originated as a way of tackling grief. Last time around, if memory serves well, a lot of her set was food and recipe based. Not quite so much of that this time but her merch desk had a tea towel with an very yummy looking cocktail recipe printed on it. Many of the seated audience found a free sampler CD on their seats which she had distributed before the show.

A very quick turnaround to Spiers and Boden. A very slick tour with a travelling sound guy who did a wonderful job. Judging from the cheers they received when they took the stage and the fact this show had been sold out for months, it would be an understatement to say this was a crowd well ready for some Spiers and Boden magic. Wands were waved and we got two very lively sets.

Butter & Cheese & All , a song from the new album Fallow Ground started off the show. The album, as was to be expected featured heavily throughout the sets. An old tune was next ,The Oswestry Wake/Morgan Rattler from their first album Through and Through, first released 2001, another very rousing whaling song oldie followed with Old Maui from 2005’s Songs Album. Hind Horn was the first song from Fallow Ground. The rest of the first set was all Fallow Ground. As was usual with this duo comprehensive song and tune backgrounds featured in the introductions, very informative and often very funny. The merch announcements warned against panic buying, restricting the presigned CDs to 10 per person to maintain control.

There wasn’t really room for dancing but there was an awful lot of foot tapping and shuffling going on, not least from Jon and John on their stomp boards. John Spiers had a very impressive array of melodeons and concertinas, they were on display for tax purposes he said. Jon Boden played fiddle throughout the night except for one song on guitar. A pretty busy merch session after set 1 but nowhere near the long line queuing for merch at the end of the show.

Set 2 kicked off with Tom Padget from 2008’s Vagabond (also re-recorded for 2011’s The Works) then a set of tunes from Fallow Ground , The Giant’s Waltz and John’s The Ironing Board Hornpipe, he remarked if he didn’t give his tunes names pretty quickly he forgot them. The title track, Fallow Ground , a night visiting song was next. As Jon announced at the start the songs featured were between 150 to 250 years old , the “cutting edge” stuff being only 150 years old. They will probably still be around in different formats in another 150 years.

The finales to the show ranked up there with the best Bellowhead shows. A superb but delicate fiddle intro to the very, very lively Haul Away from 2003’s Bellow. All too soon the final song was announced The Prickle-Eye Bush from both Bellow/The Works. They really weren’t going to get out of Saltaire without an encore and what an encore….the very lively and very sing along Bellowhead favourite New York Girls, recorded on Hedonism. I would say the majority of the audience were singing along to not only the choruses but the verses also. Listening to the multitude of voices singing along together was another apt reminder of what live music is really about. In an outdoor venue with space there would have been Morris dancers doing their thing as well as singing. A really wonderful night. I made my way past the very long queue for merch humming New York Girls…I was a happy bunny!

Oct 17 2021

Heidi Talbot & Boo Hewerdine

Friday 15th October 2021

Photos and words by Keith Belcher

Friday 15th October 2021, The Live Room, Caroline Street Social Club, Saltaire. Boo Hewerdine and Heidi Talbot. Heidi had visited several times but this was Boo’s long overdue Live Room debut. I for one hope he becomes a regular visitor.

We had some lovely comments in our visitor’s book after the show, including someone who came all the way from the Outer Hebrides especially for the show! See below…

Oct 12 2021

Nathan Bell (USA)

Sunday 10th October 2021

Photos and review by Keith Belcher

Nathan’s first visit to TLR. I somehow doubt very much that it will be his last. It was a relatively small crowd but my, how they a very happy crowd at the end of the night. Wonderfully attentive and involved throughout. There were some that commented that this was the best show they had seen at TLR. I’ve seen Nathan several times and this show was possibly the best I’d seen.

He’s always great but on Sunday he was on fire from the opening notes of Angola Prison to the 60’s classic For What It’s Worth, a cover from what may have been the first supergroup, Buffalo Springfield comprising Steve Stills, Neil Young and Richie Furay (Poco). That was the only cover of the night.

The new CD Red, White and American Blues (It Couldn’t Happen Here) featured very strongly but the show also covered the span of Nathan’s releases. Great songs, superb guitar , wonderful and lively humour and rapport , what more could you want. He knows more about football (soccer) than most British musicians.

Re the guitar work; his thumb worked so hard during the night it deserved its own picture. This tour his wife Leslie joined him on stage for Jesus of Gary Indiana. Catch him next time around. He really is very good. – Keith Belcher

From TLR:

We were thrilled to welcome Nathan for his first visit to TLR, not only because we have been chasing him for around three or four years, but also because he is our first guest from overseas since 15th March 2020. He delivered a wonderful show to a small, but perfectly formed audience, who were enraptured by his voice and guitar playing for the evening. Some comments from those present are below in the comments section

We do hope to bring him back to the UK again soon so more of you can see him.