“And you may have no hold on me”…

Ethan Johns – Leeds…

So this week saw the first of a batch of 3 gigs that occur quite close together. I doubt I will be in a position to review each one due to time, but tonight I need a distraction and this seems a constructive way to let go of some stress.

It’s actually more of a “lessons learned” log as much as a review – and the review side of it is more a joint effort – given I arm twisted my good Frenz Susie to see the same artist, in a different venue just a couple of weeks before. But I will get to that in a bit.

So here goes:

“Lesson One – Thou shall plan your route”…

Yeah, bit of a no brainer this one, well in hindsight anyway. The venue was the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds. And being Leeds, I figured it would be easy to find as I know it pretty well. Sadly the venue is in a, shall we say, dodgy area of Leeds and one that I don’t know too well. With roadworks, diversions and a fucking crap Iphone map app – I found myself driving a good 45 minutes round the surrounding area before stumbling across the place. Which leads me to:

“Lesson Two – Thou shalt check out the venue on the web first”…

Now don’t get me wrong, I am no snob. I have frequented some pretty scary places in my time, but this one makes its way to the top 5. That has a lot to do with the area – I honestly expected to come back and find my car on bricks – if it was there at all – But also a lot to do with the place itself. It’s a mini dichotomy, because whilst it’s a run down and dodgy looking joint, the stage area and the room itself are bloody fantastic. Once you get over the shock of your surroundings that is and am not sure Johns did.

“Lesson Three – Thou shalt listen to the artist before a gig”…

Now for this, I blame my other Frenz Val – because before Christmas, we went to see an artist called Ryan Bingham play in Manchester. Well, that’s not true, we went to see the amazing Matt Sherrod drum for him and Ryan just happened to be the distracting front man that night. However, we made a pact to keep an open mind and see him without hearing him before hand. That worked pretty well that night. Bingham was full of charm and it was a rocking night. That didn’t work as well this time. In fact, it went against the artist completely. Had I been more familiar with the songs, I could have maybe, well, enjoyed it more.

“Lesson Four – Thou must stop comparing to Finn”…

Yes, I admit I do. Sorry, but for me – and Susie – a singer songwriter- whoever they are – just can’t stand there like an unrelaxed lemon holding in a fart and expect to get away with it. Yes, I want and got songs of quality, yes I want and got to see a multi skilled performer on the instruments of choice, but for crying out loud man – attempt to engage me! “Charisma” was Susie’s word – but used in the context of lack of. It’s all down to opinions of course, but that’s the real shame of the night for me – because Ethan Johns could be so much better live, but he doesn’t really relax enough. Not enough to allow any of the natural charm or wit he clearly does possess – as I saw him talking after the show – come through. Not at this gig anyway. That said, his musical talent is simply not in question.

“Lesson Five – Thou must not call people Physics Teachers”…

It’s probably a real insult, but it’s Susie’s fault m’lud -she made me do it -she made me laugh out loud with her email about Ethan looking like a Physics teacher and how it stuck! As soon as he walked into the venue, it was in my mind and I even commented to a poor unsuspecting young lady about it – man alive Susie, you just have to refrain from this type of thing on the next one. During the set, when peoples concentration inevitably began to wane, he even scolded people for talking – he was visably pissed off and I don’t blame him, but I was just waiting for him to dish out lines and a detention.

That said, it was by no means the worst gig I have been to, it just left me kicking myself that I talked myself out of seeing Del Amitri’s Justin Currie who was in town the same night. Ethan Johns is a real talant, I connected with some of his songs and I will buy his CD. Sadly for him, it just didn’t work for me – or Susie – in the live setting. However, find of the night was one of the 2 support acts. Her name was Ellen Smith and she was charmingly nervous, incredibly talented and wrote lyrics like I could only dream. Ellen was followed by Marika Hackman, who didn’t hold my attention as much, but was not the worst in the world.

All in all, I at least know what to expect in 2 weeks time for the same venue and Johnny Marr, for what I am sure will be a more uptempo and Rock ‘n’ Roll affair. Tonights music comes from Ethan Johns. This is “Whip Poor Will” – the stand out for me on the night.

Enjoy…

2 responses to ““And you may have no hold on me”…

  1. So glad I have been able to give you a laugh, JamieB. I really wanted to enjoy this artist, and had the advantage over you in the shape of a smashing venue (Colston Hall Bristol) – but it just didn’t happen. We were clearly better-behaved than you lot, though, because we didn’t get told off :). Anyway don’t feel bad about coercing me to stump up for this – a more expensive gig would have been a bit upsetting 🙂

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