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Saturday 30 April 2011

Gig Frenzy

It has been a bumper week for gigs this week. Tuesday was Doug Paisley supported by Serafina Steer at the Slaughtered Lamb in Clerkenwell, Thursday was Ducks Deluxe supported by Graham Larkeby & the Escape Committee at the North Star in Leytonstone, and tonight we top it off with Ron Sexsmith supported by Jim White at the Barbican.

Doug Paisley is a Canadian singer-songwriter. You can tell he is a Canadian because he sports a Patent 1970s Gordon Lightfoot Moustache (as shown to good effect in the picture below). Like Gordon, he is a proponent of the traditional virtues of writing good songs and singing them well. And he did so very well, supplementing his excellent original material with a nice cover of the old standard "Dark as a Dungeon" (which as any of you who have been to the Slaughtered Lamb will know is a very appropriate choice). One of the highlights was a new song called "Bat Song", which he has recorded as part of a Daytrotter Session earlier in the year, and which we provide below.

Serafina Steer is an English harpist and a bit more of an acquired taste. I am not sure I have acquired it yet, but I can see I might. Lyrically very interesting, the songs where she managed to combine it with a proper tune worked very well (like 'Peach Heart' and one about captains and cabin boys) - certainly well enough to investigate further. This selection is the title track of her first album, which came out a few years ago.

"Bat Song" - Doug Paisley

"Cheap Demo Bad Science" - Serafina Steet

Ducks Deluxe were one of the original pub-rock bands from the early 1970s, whose members went on to greater fame in The Motors, The Rumour and others. Two of the original members - Martin Belmont and Sean Tyla - reformed the band a few years back and it was good to get a chance to hear them. The fact it was an acoustic set and you couldn't really see them as they sat down was slightly disappointing but did not spoil the evening. Today's choice is taken from my battered vinyl copy of their first album, with apologies for the sound quality.

I first came across Graham Larkbey in the early 1980s when he had a song on some dodgy compilation cassette (neither he nor I can now remember what the song was called). He is still going strong and with his band, The Escape Committee, still putting on very enjoyable shows in a broadly pub rock style. They have a new CD EP out, from which this track in taken. As you may be able to make out from the photo of the great man and some saddo fan below, the EP is called 'Opening Time'. A snip at £3.50, it can be ordered directly from Graham on

"Fireball" - Ducks Deluxe

"Deja Vu" - Graham Larkbey & The Escape Committee

I obviously can't review Ron Sexsmith and Jim White yet, so let's move straight to the downloads. I keeping with the theme started when discussing Doug Paisley earlier, we celebrate Ron's fervent Canadianishness with his cover of a Gordon Lightfoot song, taken from a tribute album called "Beautiful" released five years or so back. Jim's song comes from his 2001 album, "No Such Place".

"Drifters" - Ron Sexsmith

"The Wound That Never Heals" - Jim White

To finish off, I have tracked down a Gordon Lightfoot performance from 1974, for comparison's sake. I believe it may even be the same moustache, handed down from generation to generation.

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