Simply Acoustic @ The Wharf, with Paul Mosley, Natalie Lake, and Sefo Kanuteh with Adam Clark, 2 September 2014. All photos (c) all rights reserved Richard Shashamane 2014
A lovely line up for the second event here at the Wharf – I sadly missed Nobodaddy at the inaugural session due to a gig-clash but had the chance to hear Adam again tonight playing with Sefo, and also catch up with Mike who was in the audience.
The church itself is beautiful – once I finally, clumsily negotiated the door and got in – with whitewashed walls, a grand piano and just the right level of lighting to compliment the informal and intimate feel of this unplugged gig.
Sefo Kanuteh started the evening’s music, brilliantly accompanied by Adam Clark on guitar. Sefo played in his usual way, friendly and engaging and the kora ever-magical and fascinating. Towards the end he played Diaraby on balafon, excerpts of which were immediately recognisable to me from the work of Ali Farka Toure, a big favourite of mine. A richly mesmeric and beautiful set from these highly talented musicians.
Next was Natalie Lake, who I thought was also perfectly suited to this venue. The fragile and vulnerable nature of some of the subject matter in many of her songs was heightened in this setting but it also served to show how powerful her voice can be. Sat down with head bowed against the lights exposing her she sang absolutely beautifully accompanied just by her finger-picked guitar. I don’t know if she was nervous or not but she came across as relaxed and friendly, joking gently between songs. I think she’s one of those performers at their best playing sat down and this set was totally enchanting. Playing again new song now officially called “Angel at the Bar” which I thankfully anticipated correctly in my last write up, which is another example of how eloquent and poetic she can be in her songwriting. She ended the set with a cover she’d learned this week, which I did not immediately recognise, despite her introduction that she hoped it would not be too obscure. It was actually from the soundtrack of Ice Age but I would never have recognised it, like all the best covers she has totally re-interpreted it and made it her own. Having listened to it on YouTube I think Natalie’s version is infinitely better and certainly more beautiful.
I first heard Paul Mosley via Steve Howlett (also present in the audience) at one of his Grapevine nights a year or so ago and Paul’s album A Chattering of Birds has become one of my favourites. He told us proudly but humbly that it was voted album of the year by Radio 2 amongst others. He did play a selection from that album including the gorgeous title track and also a preview selection from his new Butcher project with glimpsed themes of love, lighthouses, the sea and the desert, all beautifully rendered, including one penned on the train journey to the venue. He has a tremendously powerful and expressive voice with great range, and he thrived on this venue’s grand piano. Added to all this of course is his lovely wit and manner with the audience and he had us in peals of laughter at times, in Alex Carson-style he can create this wonderful balance and contrast between the heavy themes of some of the songs and the grinning rapid wit between songs. I loved it! A perfect way to end what was a genuinely special and lovely evening of music in a delightful setting and in a warmly intimate way. With a few small tweaks here and there this venue and this regular Simply Acoustic night will only go from strength to strength and is another welcome addition to the list of music venues in the city.
Thanks and well done to all the performers and those involved in staging the event, compered, and curated by Matt Watson
words and photos, richard shashamane 2014 – Photos not to be used without permission or credits