Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Acoustic+, Frome, October 14, 2011

OK. I have finally got round to starting this and that, more often than not, is the hardest part. In fact I'm currently accumulating items and topics to write about much faster than I'm doing the writing. Perhaps now the days are shorter and colder I will make a big effort to catch up and to that end will start with some notes from the most recent Acoustic+, and apparently the 77th such, last Friday.
One interesting change from the last few that I have been to is it included only acts and artists that I had never seen before; all but the last being (almost) entirely acoustic.
The evening started with two shorter-than-usual sets of which the first was by Maisie Robinson solo. With an audience that I estimate was just the right side of one hundred it must have been pretty daunting. 

The first song almost immediately put me in mind of Illinois singer-songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield, with its careworn yet stoic theme and accompaniment to match, but that is no bad thing at all in my book. That is not to say that there was anything at all wrong with the other songs; rather that it is unusual that I find myself thinking something like that so quickly particularly because I don't want to pigeon-hole by using such comparisons -  just go listen. As soon as you get the chance.
Next up was another short set by Josh & Ethan White. They are brothers but I'd like to know what they thought about some factions in both audience and management that decided on a vote to re-name them 'The White Brothers'. I'm not sure whether they were consulted so it is perhaps just as well that the vote, a TUC-style show of hands, was quite convincingly inconclusive giving them a mandate to call themselves whatever they want. Frome is a haven of grass-roots democracy, right down to matters such as this.
One admission that I shall make, and it should matter to them, is that they were far better than my attempts at photography. We have now worked up from solo artist to a two-piece and that is in fact an electronic drum kit, hence my proviso above.
The next act, another two-piece, was a different challenge entirely. Soundgarden doesn't come from Frome. Xenophobia has no place here either and Soundgarden comes from Bradford-on-Avon, although originally clearly even further away than that. This probably explains why one song was sung in Finnish.
Soundgarden - Acoustic Plus - October 14, 2011.  
Joining the phalanx employing once almost forgotten acoustic instruments that have seen a huge resurgence, and therefore I have seen played live on many occasions, in the last couple of years it saw employment of the 'portable' harmonium.  It is however the first time that I've seen one played predominantly as a lead instrument. Awesome. Some of the other songs they played had so much Roma influence that it sent me off in search of some vinyl (in my archive) from long, long ago...
Then this... and very different to all that had come before. Al O'Kane and Richard Kennedy have, so they say, only recently started playing as a duo.
Be scared. This is Americana territory - dust, rust and things more visceral. The next hobos, they might even have left for good on the next freight train out of town as it passed by the back of the Cheese and Grain, but who knows? I rather hope not.
Last to play was a very new-formed band, also all young, Haters. Yes, they are not acoustic, in fact quite the opposite, but I don't hold that against them not least because I like much electric and electronic music too. They were last to play and also suffered an electric guitar failure that upset their first track and were thus indubitably flustered. Such things happen. That can happen to any act at any venue, it was quite probably no fault of their own. I do, however, think that it might have been better if they had opened the event with all the others, in the same order and with the same time-slots, following.  The other issue, and perhaps a more generally important one, is that if the drummer and guitarists are going to take to stages, ones as far apart as is obvious here, there will likely be a problem even if it is one only perceived by the audience.

No comments: