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!

Jun 16 2021

Jon Boden

Sunday 13th June 2021

Photos, set list and review by Keith Belcher

Jon Boden, The Live Room, Caroline Street Social Club, Saltaire 13th June 2021

Late Show (21: 00) of a socially distanced, two-house gig

Set List

Intro -Hilary

Rigs Of The Time (Trad)

We Do What We Can

Old Straight Track

Walking Song

Rose In June (trad)

Cinnamon Water

All Hang Down

Dancing In The Ruins

Come Out Wherever You Are

One Night As I Lay On My Bed (trad)

Roll Alabama

Jordan

Last Mile Home

New York Girls

This was meant to be the last of the socially distanced gigs at TLR but it was obvious to all even without the systematic leaking that it was likely to be late July before venues might be fully open (fingers crossed on that). Hilary sadly confirmed that before the show.

What can you say about Jon Boden? The dates for the original shows sold out very, very quickly. One of the very best voices and front men in roots music. Anyone who has seen the phenomenal Bellowhead will attest to that. Combine him and Eliza Carthy on either side of the stage and you would have Vinegar Joe/Jefferson Airplane – yes, that really dates my musical tastes!

Jon opened the second of the two shows with the very appropriate “Rigs Of Our Times”, a nineteenth century song about maintenance of good and honest trading mechanisms. Rigs meaning “a trick or way of swindling someone”. He quipped that no way was the song appropriate to current times….Perhaps it was a planned theme but that song was followed by one of Jon’s own compositions, “We Do What We Can”, again very appropriate. Songs featured during the evening were a mixture of traditionals that may have been more familiar as Bellowhead recordings and songs from Jon’s recent trilogy of post-apocalyptic, climate change themed albums. The latest of those albums mainly composed and recorded during lockdown and only recently released. Not surprisingly many songs from the latest album Last Mile Home were featured in possibly one of Jon’s first “real” shows since the album release. I for one am very happy at anyone returning to albums that follow a theme rather than numerous, non-related, singles.

Jon came equipped with 3 guitars, violin, concertina and an array of foot pedals and stomp box. All of which were played superbly. “One Night As I Lay In My Bed” ignored most of that and was performed with accompanying clapping and stomp box. Who noticed Bellowhead weren’t on stage? I find a solo performance of songs like “Rigs of Time” and “Jordan” really bring the very meaningful lyrics to the fore when not distracted by the heavy instrumentation of a large band, personal opinion as I find it difficult to concentrate on too many things at once!

Post-apocalyptic Morris dancing was predicted during the show, many of the songs having enough drive and beat to tempt the dancers in the crowd if there weren’t Covid restraints in force. Finishing the show with the powerhouse song “Jordan” and a double encore of “Last Mile Home”, the title track and last song on the new album and then the magnificent upbeat “New York Girls” just made you want more. I am sure that I wasn’t the only one pretending not to sing along. A great gig, thoroughly enjoyed by all present, audience, promoter and artist.

TLR’s summer shows will be socially distanced until policies and opinions change. Check the website/blog for all dates, join the mailing list for updates.