New Music at The Birdcage, June 26 2013, review
Thanks to Alex and The Birdcage for hosting this, we had another night of new local talent to discover, on a busy night in the city which also included the Access to Music party at NAC, The Grapevine at Bedfords, and the NUA Degree Show. Unfortunately all these events coinciding on a Wednesday night probably affected the turnout slightly but it was still a respectable audience, for mostly acts which I had not seen before.
The first of which was Barry Banks. I know absolutely nothing about Barry but my guess is that he must have done some busking as he had a great wit and spontaneity about his set. His voice is superb, as is his guitar playing, but his set opener, a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On” is quite the most original cover of this song I have ever heard, and included several laugh out loud moments as he improvised lyrics and moods. Clever stuff and impossible to pigeonhole.
The following act was another new one to me, Phil Jackson from Ipswich. Looking very Gallic in stripes, again a solo singer with acoustic but very powerful guitar and a lovely voice with super melodies and delivery. I was quite taken with his set and will dig out more of his stuff online. His website is at http://www.philjacksonmusic.com
Banjaxeld are an act whose name I have seen a lot of lately but had not yet heard. I was very impressed with them. They clearly have a multitude of influences, and most obvious of these would probably be blues, folk and soul. All of them are very good musicians, have good voices and the songs tell engaging stories. The most powerful of these for me was the penultimate song about an overheard conversation. Very good live band!
The Indebtors are also very good musicians and storytellers, a fine bassist, drummer and expressive vocals. I think it was their final song, “Sleepy Dust” that I enjoyed the most of all.
Final act and headliners tonight were Stromm. This is a band who I have seen a few times before but usually as a duo of Claire and Ross. Tonight they were joined by Dan on bass and Stuart on drums. Their songs are developing and they have become a tighter unit as a band, as one would expect with such good musicians. Claire is an excellent singer and Ross has a highly impressive vocal range but their strength is in the harmonies and the lyrics. Set opener “Smoking” which I have heard three times or so is my favourite.
I enjoyed all the acts on offer but the personal highlights were Stromm, Banjaxeld, and Phil Jackson, respect to them for performing as if this place was packed. Thanks to Alex Carson again for introducing more new music in such a gig filled calendar, and congratulations to Maraud who graced us with his presence and prolonged his feline birthday celebrations after his excesses with the high-grade catnip!
words and photos by richard shashamane