Sep 28 2022

Annie Keating Band

Sunday 25th September 2022

Photos by Keith Belcher

The first visit of New Yorker, Annie Keating and her band to The Live Room was an absolute triumph. Her band – Joe Coombs, guitar; Scott Warman, basses; and Jamie Dawson, drums – supported Annie superbly, with a performance of skill, maturity and power that had the audience cheering wildly from the first number. Read a full review of the show by John Barlass of At The Barrier here.

Aug 26 2022

Della Mae

Plus support The Silver Reserve

Thursday 25th August 2022

Photos and words by Keith Belcher

The very fabulous Della Mae making their long awaited debut at The Live Room, Saltaire. Originally scheduled for 2020 but something (???) threw a spanner in the works.

Truth to say they surpassed the expectations. I was fortunate enough to see their superb performances at Celtic Connections, Glasgow opening for The Milk Carton Kids and headlining their own show. Changes over the years but tonight’s line up was fiddle player Kimber Ludiker, lead vocalist/guitarist Celia Woodsmith, guitarist Avril Smith, bassist Vickie Vaughn. Mandolinist Maddie Witler didn’t make the trip this time around.

A high octane show from start to finish, serious amounts of energy generated, fair to say at the end there were people initially dancing in their seats but some just got up and danced. One of the most high-powered shows I’ve seen at TLR (and I’ve seen more than most people!).

Support act, Matthew Sturgess aka The Silver Reserve is rapidly gaining a good following with his superb, atmospheric shows. He had both the crowd and Della Mae who watched his entire show hanging on his every word and sound. A short but very sweet set, he’s due back to do more than open next March.

May 18 2022

Outside Track 2022

Sunday 15th May 2022

Words and photos by Keith Belcher

The Outside Track is:

Isla Ratcliff – fiddle, vocals (Scotland)

Fiona Black – accordion, vocals (Scotland)

Teresa Horgan – flute, lead vocals (Ireland)

Seán Gray- guitar, vocals (Scotland)

Ailie Robertson – Gaelic harp, vocals (Scotland)

May 14 2022

Seth Lakeman

Thursday 12th May 2022

Words and photos by Keith Belcher

Another fantastic sell out gig at TLR. A trip through Seth’s archive. Set list with albums and year released. Difficult to believe Kitty Jay is almost 20 years old!

Set 1

Love Will Still Remain (Make Your Mark-2021)

The Giant (Make Your Mark-2021)

King & Country (Freedom Fields-2006)

Blood Red Sky (Poor Man’s Heaven-2008)

Bury Nights (A Pilgrims Tale-2020)

Bold Knight (Kitty Jay 2004)

Underground (Make Your Mark-2021)

Higher We Aspire (Make Your Mark-2021)

White Hare (Freedom Fields-2006)

The Setting Sun (Freedom Fields-2006)

Set 2

Lady Of The Sea (Freedom Fields-2006)

Side By Side (Make Your Mark-2021)

Shoals To Turn (Make Your Mark-2021)

Soloman Browne (Poor Man’s Heaven-2008)

Coming For You Soon (Make Your Mark-2021)

1643 (Freedom Fields-2006)

The Colliers (Freedom Fields-2006)

Change (Hearts & Mind-2010)

Kitty Jay (Kitty Jay-2004)

Blood Upon Copper (Kitty Jay-2004)

ENCORE

Last Rider (Word Of Mouth-2014)

May 2 2022

Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman

Friday 29th April 2022

Review and photos by Keith Belcher

An unusual event tonight. Kathryn and Sean, usually one of Folk’s best dressed duos were in civvie garb after leaving their stage bag at Kathryn’s Mum’s house. That didn’t make any difference to the quality of the show. Boosting The Live Room’s already excellent sound with their own Bose units on stage. As Sean said we were in for a veritable Smörgåsbord of songs old and new, self written and traditIonal .

In amongst some of the old favourites were no less than 7 new, as yet unrecorded songs they were road testing on this tour. I think it would be an understatement to say that they went down pretty well. In the mix were traditional murders, tightrope walkers, mysterious cows , love songs, one about a whale singing off key and being lonely and some downright gruesome songs such as Huldra and Child Owlet . Great banter and song explanations throughout.

It goes without saying that Kathryn’s voice, keyboard and flute playing were excellent as was Sean’s guitar work. A really good night. Brother Seth due at TLR later in the month. Set list below.

Set 1

The Granite Mill

52 Hertz

The Rope Dancer (new unrecorded)

The Knight’s Ghost

Red Rose & White Lily (new unrecorded)

The Cows Of Mystery Eavesdropping (new unrecorded)

A Tribute Of Hands

A Song To Live By

Set 2

The Willow Tree

The Fall Of The Lion Queen (new unrecorded)

Night Visiting (new unrecorded)

The Child Owlet

Huldra

The Year Without A Summer (new unrecorded)

Tomorrow Will Follow Today

Pewtor (new unrecorded)

Apr 24 2022

Hot Club of Cowtown

Friday 22nd April 2022

Photos by Ron Pengelly

What a fantastic night we had with the amazing Hot Club of Cowtown on their TLR debut!

Apr 13 2022

John Smith 2022

plus support from Native Harrow

Sunday 10th April 2022

Review and photos by Keith Belcher

Supporting John on this tour were Philadelphian duo Native Harrow, now resident in Brighton. UK. They are Devin Tuel on main vocals and guitar and musical partner multi-instrumentalist Stephen Harms, tonight mainly on bass and guitar. Both wearing well-made flared trouser suits. They evoked, to me, sounds of the late 60’s and 1970’s.

Devin’s vocals have been compared to, amongst others, Laura Nyro and Karen Carpenter. They have released 4 albums. The latest being CLOSENESS which garnered very good reviews from Uncut, The Times, Mojo and The Guardian. They certainly seemed to have some avid followers in the audience who greeted their songs with much enthusiasm.

The dictionary definition of exquisite is: adjective: “meaning extremely beautiful and delicate or marked by flawless craftsmanship or by beautiful, ingenious, delicate, or elaborate execution”. It could also be justifiably ascribed to John Smith’s performance on Sunday night. I have seen John Smith play great shows many times over the last 16 years or so, often taking in several shows in a tour. Sunday’s show, however, was just exquisitely sublime. The show was deservedly sold out in advance. That’s not bad when you consider he was only playing a few miles away at The Brudenell Club, Leeds the night before. Usually promoters try and avoid that sort of proximity clash but with multiple cancellations, rescheduling etc etc over the last 2 years, life is what is!

There have been many changes for John over the period of you know what. He’s had time for much reflection and introspection. It’s resulted in many great new songs. He’s moved home from Somerset to North Wales, brought his parents over from Spain to care for them, found out he’s allergic to all sorts of things and changed his diet considerably. He’s brought out 3 excellent albums over that period. He has also really missed playing to real live audiences.

The joy of being able to perform again has been, like for other acts recently at TLR very noticeable. His sound has altered considerably. To my ears it’s far more refined and delicate. He was always quiet but never more so than now. The array of effects pedals at his feet also seems to have bred profusely and are used subtly to enhance his voice and guitar. He always used to make do with 2 guitars but he now travels with 3 and one is called Mavis. Perhaps the other 2 also have names but he didn’t introduce them on the night.

A rare night off sound desk duties for Ron, which, I would imagine made the sold out show even more enjoyable. John and Native Harrow had the skills of Barnsley’s Joe Rusby at the desk. Both Joe and John commented at the sound check just what a great room TLR is for sound. Something all the regulars are well aware.

John’s set opened with the array of pedals being used to great effect on a long extremely delicate intro to Hold On from THE FRAY. He then remarked it had been approximately 3 years 16 days since he performed at TLR, not that he had been counting! The next 2 songs were also from THE FRAY. Sanctuary had also been re-recorded for THE FRAY VARIATIONS with a String Quartet at Abbey Road. It has, amongst others, a wonderful line, “I saw the future with eyes wide open”.

The set also featured the traditional Hares On the Mountain and a Roly Salley cover, Killing The Blues, really beautifully sung and played. Whenever I hear this song played by anyone, I think back to a Martin Simpson comment about the royalties cheque difference when Robert Plant and Alison Krauss recorded the song, considerable I should imagine. John’s version was just as good. 

During the time of no live gigs John collaborated with the very phenomenal Sarah Jarosz on a song called Eye To Eye, also on THE FRAY. What a lucky man! He sings with both Sarah Jarosz and the equally brilliant (“big sister”) Lisa Hannigan. He commented that when he received the vocals (it was all done at distance, Sarah is US based) from Sarah he thought he had better redo his own already recorded vocals, Sarah’s were that good. I have seen her several times and she really is a huge talent and still SO young. She also performs in a trio called I’m With Her with Aoife O’Donovan and Sara Watkins who have harmonies beyond belief, well worth checking if not already known.

He did 2 songs co-written and sung with Lisa. The first was Star Crossed Lovers. John joked if we imagine hard Lisa and Sarah might appear from backstage. I’d think I was hallucinating or in heaven if that happened.

 John in a recent Facebook blog had given a glowing report on TLR audience. His line was a “die hard pin drop audience”. I was really aware of this as Sunday really was a “you could hear a pin drop night”. I had arranged with John that I would photograph 3 songs to capture the 3 different guitars and I would do most of it from the back. I have never been so conscious of a shutter click, the listening intensity of the audience was so much that to me, the shutter release sounded like thunder. I sincerely hope I did not really annoy too many people. I moved around to “share” the load. John maintained a friendly constant banter with the audience throughout. There was even a little friendly Northern heckling of Get On With It in response to one banter interlude.

All too soon the show was coming to an end with 2 songs from HEADLONG, Joanna followed by Far Too Good, both songs are incredibly well written and have seriously addictive vocal and guitar hooks. Along with Save My Life (possibly the catchiest song for many a year, sadly not performed) from same album they all need health warnings that once heard they’re going to echo around your head for days (or more).

The encore paid homage to John’s Brixham , Devon upbringing with another Lisa Hannigan co-write and performed song Salty and Sweet. The audience performed their vocal parts beautifully without being asked bringing a huge smile to John’s face. It was easy to see that he really enjoyed the night. Let’s not wait another 3 years for the next visit.

Apr 5 2022

Lynne Hanson 2022

Plus support Malcolm MacWatt

Sunday 3rd April 2022

Review and photos by Keith Belcher

Canadian Lynne Hanson’s second visit to TLR had been one of the many gigs delayed , postponed and rescheduled due to you know what.  This time around she was accompanied on guitar, vocals and electronic wizardry by the very excellent Ottawa based Blair Michael Hogan. London based Scots singer songwriter Malcolm MacWatt was making his TLR debut.

Following his debut performance I am fairly certain that Malcolm MacWatt will be back at TLR soon headlining his own show. He was very well received by the TLR crowd, some of whom had travelled far and wide for tonight’s show. Morayshire born, currently living in London. One only has to look at the guests on his new album SETTLER and its many glowing reviews to get an idea of the rep he’s making for himself with his excellent song writing. The album features no less than Jaimee Harris, Laura Cantrell, Gretchen Peters, Eliza Carthy and Kris Drever. That’s not a bad guest list. A multi-instrumentalist playing almost all instruments on the album himself.

Tonight, he limited himself to guitar only. A very good selection of songs. A theme of Celts abroad present in many of the songs such as the opener The Crofter and the Cherokee, followed by a tragic Letter From San Francisco, a sad letter written from an emigrant to his mother. A slightly disturbing (these days) recount of his Dad keeping a shotgun in the car in case they saw any game. That helped towards the song Trespass a very intelligent and observational song. He finished his set with a taste of Red River Woman, a song he’s currently recording . His opening remarks to that song about hating misogyny and prejudice of any kind reminded me greatly of Dick Gaughan, another Scot with a huge social conscience.

Hilary introduced Lynne Hanson and Blair Michael Hogan to huge applause. A lot of people had been waiting a long time for this gig, postponed and rescheduled over the last 2 years.

Blair’s guitar painted a lush sonic landscape from the opening notes of Hold My Breath and continued that way all night. The song, about friendship and living in the moment inspired by the period of you know what making us think about our lives and relationships. Blair’s guitar was superb throughout. An array of pedals at his feet and the skill in his fingers creating wonderfully diverse textures and emotional backdrops to Lynne’s guitars and vocals. Blair also sang harmonies but mainly played really superb guitar with very little conversation (except for one point – more later).

The next song 100 Mile Wind had a Wizard of Oz intro about filling up her car with gas and almost being blown to Kansas. Lynne’s album JUST WORDS was written before lockdowns (“Before Times”) happened and it never got the extensive  touring it deserved and then along comes ICE CREAM IN NOVEMBER , to be released officially on April 22nd. Lynne commented on how lonely the songs from JUST WORDS must have felt not being allowed out to meet the world.

Lynne’s lyrics and songs cover a huge range of topics as do her in between song banters. It would be fair to say she could probably hold her own at TLR’s comedy nights as a stand up comedian. The audience were, at times, in stitches with her highly theatrical, animated conversations and gesticulations. They covered all sorts of topics from observations about Canada’s “big” neighbours and health services and huge vats of maple syrup, jigsaw puzzles, being vetted for a “Nice Canadian” card to allow exit from Canada. Imagined meetings with Ernest Hemingway and strangely named deserts.  

Lynne has a really infectious energy that crackles about her. Feeding on the energy from the audience and giving it back in spades. Blair ‘s only comments of the night were when she was relating her experiences of drinking (she stopped in 2011), something along the lines of finding it difficult to imagine her as a drunk. The song Long Way Home was written after giving up booze. It really reminded me of another TLR favourite the great Bronwynne Brent, it had that nice easy, bluesy, jazzy feel to it.

The pace and delivery of songs was very varied. The banter from factual, comical to philosophical sophistry – (did the colour blue exist before someone called it blue – Orion’s Belt). What was very evident from the start and throughout was the sheer joy at being back on a stage in front of real people playing live music. It’s been a common theme amongst artists since lockdowns ended but so far none quite so evidently displayed as tonight.

As the set drew to an end Lynne had the audience singing along with a very upbeat Shadowland with Blair pulling out all the guitar stops. In another country he would have been given several bursts of spontaneous applause for his breaks. With dramatic contrast Lynne and Blair finished set proper with an unplugged version of Gotta Have Rain, perched precariously on the stage edge. She said in the “before times” it was a song about gratitude and in the (hopefully) “after times” it is even more of a song about gratitude and appreciation of the way things are. ” You want to have flowers, you gotta have rain”. It was dedicated to as especial thanks to promoters and audience who are turning out to support live music.

They weren’t getting away without an encore which was the very superb River of Sand. A great night, good time had by all, performers, audience and everyone involved. What else do you want on a Sunday night?

Mar 28 2022

Little George Sueref & The Blue Stars

Sunday 27th March 2022

It has been an ambition of ours for around twenty years to bring the Cardiff-born bluesman to our stage and at last we managed it!

We don’t present a whole lot of blues here at TLR and when we do we look for something outside the mainstream ‘blues rock’ version, preferring to avoid the classic electric guitar ‘shredders’, as good as many are.

Little George eschews the flashier stylings of modern bluesmen, favouring the more nuanced, textured feel of the original giants, such as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter; a hark back to the music from the iconic Chess label.

That’s not to say there isn’t skill aplenty in the band. As well as George’s wonderfully soulful voice that goes from a growl to a two-octave leaping howl in an instant and his deceptively simple guitar lines, he is an amazing harmonica player. Last night, as well as classic blues harp, we were also treated to a beautiful minor key ska instrumental with George taking up the chromatic version of the instrument and showing a real mastery of that too.

Accompanying George were two brilliant London-based Italians. Davide Manzzantini from Empoli just outside Florence, treated us to some fantastic and very tasteful guitar, never over the top and always full of melody. On drums Loris Peverani from Rimini on Italy’s Adriatic coast, played some of the most tasteful drums, always serving the song and driving the rhythm with a delicate but powerful pulse.

We were treated to over two hours of soulful, old style blues that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Chicago bar room in the 1950s and suited the Caroline Street Club surroundings perfectly! Another great night of music here at TLR.

On a slightly sadder note, the evening also coincided with the club steward, Mark’s last shift at the club, as he takes his leave of the industry for a new job. We’re all very sad to see him go after all the work he has put in over the past five years to build the club into the success it has become. We wish him and his partner Gemma and their children the very best for the future.

Feb 15 2022

Paul McKenna Band

Sunday 13th February 2022

Review and photos by Keith Belcher

A debut appearance at TLR for the 5-piece Glasgow based band comprising Paul McKenna, guitar and main vocals, Conal McDonagh, pipes and whistles, Robbie Grieg, fiddle, Conor Markey guitar, tenor-banjo, bouzouki and backing vocals and Ewan Baird bodhrán and backing vocals. A fairly rare but very welcome appearance south of the Scottish border.

Last week we had Sarah Allen from Flook playing standing on one leg, out of choice. This week we had Paul limping painfully on one leg due to an injury picked up playing 5 a side football which attracted the absolute minimum of sympathy from band mates. There was certainly no limp to his voice, that was firing on all cylinders throughout the show. It was evident on the night just why he is regarded as one of the finest and most exciting Scottish voices. There was excitement all around, for the band the pleasure of actually playing in front of live audiences and as well as having the band appear, for the Live Room, the fact that for the first time there were 3 shows scheduled for this week. As well as 2 one leggers we also had 2 bodhrán players on the trot also with John Joe Kelly last week and Ewan Baird at this gig.

Introductions over the show started with The Mickey Dam a traditional Irish song about Immigrant labourers working on the Dam at Milngavie (pronounced Mil-guy) in Scotland. It’s rousing choruses got the night off to a great start. Throughout the night we had traditional Irish and Scottish songs, Paul’s own compositions, covers and also co-writes with other artists. Superb harmonious sounds coming from left of the stage with Conal and Robbie merging pipes, whistle and fiddle in a very pleasing to the ears sound. It’s not surprising that Paul’s voice has been compared favourably to the great Dick Gaughan. In Paul we have one of the most powerful and emotive voices on the musical circuits in any genre. Like Dick, Paul also writes songs with a social conscience, not yet as forthright as Dick but Dick didn’t get that outspoken overnight. There is a Dick Gaughan song called Whatever Happened which could have been the forerunner to Paul’s song The Dream, listen to both and see if you agree. Not surprising that Dick helped with the production of Paul’s album Between Two Worlds.

Conal switched between whistles and pipes throughout the night, playing both to great effect, likewise Conor switched between guitar, tenor-banjo and bouzouki as well as providing great backing vocals. A rock steady beat and great vocals from Ewan sitting mainly in the shadows at far stage right. The evening extremely well-paced, rousing songs alongside contemplative ones and 2 sets of very foot tapping tunes of jigs and reels. Lots of funny stories about Paul’s residency at Disneyworld in Florida and adventures in the States and Canada. There seemed a lot of alcohol involved with some stories. A co-write with the great Tim O’Brien, Can You See Me Sister, evoked stories of digital, transatlantic song collaboration.

Robbie weaved in and around all the other instruments superbly all night.  The audience participated enthusiastically and brilliantly on Paul’s own composition Home, which was the last “real” song of SET 2, an easy one as it didn’t involve words. They went off stage to rapturous applause, possibly a mistake for Paul to leave the stage as he had to hobble back for the encore, much to the amusement of his “sympathetic” bandmates. The encore of Walt Aldridge’s No Ash Will Burn also invited the same level of participation from the audience, this time a bit more complicated but the audience passed the memory test with flying colours. Outside it was very cold and wet but inside TLR a very entertaining and warming evening, a great debut appearance by a great band.

It was also the first of trial early starts for Sunday nights. Having started at 7pm the show was over shortly after 9pm. Those with “school” the next day were grateful. The trial worked well in my opinion.