One weekend, two great gigs. It didn’t look promising when i rolled up at Shakespeares on the Friday night. The evening’s gig coincided with a beer festival, as a result of which the venue had made the show free entry. And the upstairs room was seemingly packed with people who were only there for the beer as The Silver Darlings attempted to soundcheck. An hour or so later when things got underway it wasn’t looking much better. Thankfully that soon changed.
After overcoming a few technical glitches, The Silver Darlings began. Tonight’s show also served as their album launch for debut record Souls. With an enthusiastic home crowd dancing at the front, they soon had most of the room listening. What was a rare full band outing brought new life to the songs, more often heard in a stripped down form of frontman Andy Whitehouse and his 12 string, and whoever else can turn up. They came with old friends and no doubt left with some new ones.
Curtis Eller had apparently been a little apprehensive when learning he’d be performing at a beer festival. His fears were unfounded. A highkicking, yodeling, braces and Converse wearing banjo player with a moustache that would do any silent movie villain proud is probably not a common sight at your average beer festival. Though after some bemused looks from the few people not quite sure what they’d walked in to, the crowd was soon in silent awe. Watching Curtis Eller is always an interactive experience, his frequent forays into the crowd, pigeon coos and singalongs as he tells his tales of American history, sweat shop fires, circus elephants and the last words of a man in the gas chamber. Recent UK tours have of course seen the shows live up to what should be their full billing of Curtis Eller’s American Circus with Eller having had a double bass player and drummer in tow. The band were in fine form, and by the end there was no mistaking people were there to see a gig. Anybody who ever aspires to putting on a show should go and see Curtis Eller.
Sunday night at The Greystones was a little more sedate. It was a sparse but no less enthusiastic crowd that greeted Bradford’s Wilful Missing. Due to illness they were missing their drummer but they effortlessly breezed through songs from forthcoming debut album Molehills Out Of Mountains and their 2009 EP Vast Atlantic. Molehills Out Of Mountains will be launched on December 3rd at the New Beehive Inn in Bradford.
Singer/songwriter Roger Davies took to the stage and treated an appreciative audience to songs old and new. There was a debut performance for one brand new track whose name escapes me, and some tasters of next year’s new album due in April. Stories of his West Yorkshire roots, Huddersfield Town and Brighouse On A Saturday Night were delivered in typically warm fashion, though due to the space restrictions of a Nissan Micra the brass band featured on the album version of Brighouse… were unable to join him. Old favourite and another ode to home Northern Trash once again demonstrated the quality of Roger’s voice and his undoubted charm. As proceedings drew to a close, Roger was reluctant to leave the stage, enjoying himself as much as the audience were as he closed with Destiny Calling. He hasn’t been labelled “one of todays most entertaining Acoustic Folk Singer Songwriters” for nothing.