Birds of Hell, The Real Paul [The Sound of Sight], Ben Winn, OST at Cinema City Bar, Norwich, 2 July 2013, review
Having seen Pete Murdoch, of the very fine and wonderful Sargasso Trio, performing live as The Birds of Hell at The Birdcage last month and being massively impressed, I felt I simply could not miss this opportunity to hear him again, especially as the much-anticipated gig at Open has sadly been cancelled. Tonight he was again joined by and performing with Ben on drums and James on keyboards.
However, first on tonight was a singer I was seeing and hearing for the first time, The Real Paul. I was instantly taken with his voice and gentle sixties feel to his guitar folk-pop songs, with engaging lyrics which I enjoyed immensely. The opening song had the memorable opening line “I decided to change my life today, so I left my job and I walked away”, and a wonderfully descriptive song about being a rolling stone. Sadly he only played a short set of three songs but I hope the reception he got gives him the confidence to play live more often. I am desperately trying to find some of his work on Soundcloud or some such site and will link it if I am successful in this. I am assuming these songs are all his own original compositions, as I certainly did not recognise them, although they have this 1960s familiarity of sound about them and are so complete that it is easy to think they might be older. Excellent stuff, I only wish I could have heard more.
[Edit: listening to the demos on Soundcloud, with hammond organ, high in the mix bass and harmonica, the 60s feel is even more prominent and incredibly authentic]
After a short break it was Ben Winn performing his poetry, some of it recited from a notebook and some of it accompanied with a Yamaha keyboard. His style is great, and the poems at times funny, surreal, or plain bonkers, they raised many laughs from myself and quite a few others. Clever and amusing wordplay and bizarre imagery from them.
Ben, as mentioned, was back on stage to accompany Pete as the wonderfully named Birds of Hell, which conjures some amazing imagery. In fact Pete was explaining about this, and how he didn’t want to be another guy with a guitar performing under his own name, so when he was playing about on the guitar in his dining room and his seven year old son walked in and said “Dad, that sounds like Birds of Hell!” he knew he had a new name.
I’ve only seen and heard the Birds of Hell twice but already adore these songs. I have already written on the amazing song written about his grandmother, which you can see read about here and the charmingly wonderful songs about Boa Constrictors, Don’t Touch That Schnitzel, Clint Eastwood, kidnaps and ransoms et al. they are like surreal, bluesey nursery rhymes and I love them! Pete has an excellent and expressive voice and can play some extraordinarily subtle and delicate guitar, extremely ably backed by Ben on drums, the overall sound is a delicious blend of blues and folk and country and the lyrics have to be listened to, Pete delivers them clearly and with no small amount of emotion. As the Sargasso Trio don’t perform live as often as I would wish “because of offspring commitments” The Birds of Hell are a very fine substitute and exciting new act in its own right.
Another very fine evening, which I am glad I pushed myself to get to despite my near-overwhelming tiredness, this was a great medicine!
Thanks again to Iain for putting on these splendid nights.
Words and photos by richard shashamane 2013