Paul Liddell, Blood Bird live at Grapevine @ Bedfords, Bedfords Bar, 24 September.
September marks the seventh birthday of the wonderful Grapevine @ Bedfords night run by the ever enthusiastic Steve Howlett. Unfortunately, and rather ironically, after talking migraines with Steve himself I was struck down by one on the evening of the first part of the September birthday double-header but was raring to go again for this one.
I could hear Blood Bird soundchecking as I approached Bedfords, and sure enough the sound was coming through the larger pa of Paul Liddell, tonight working as performer and sound engineer!
Blood Bird, being Chris and Steph, one half of the excellent Kill It Kid are a duo I love and have seen many times now but tonight they were a bit more electric … and louder. Chris playing two or three songs on a cheap old Woolworths electic guitar which he explained was superb for playing slide, and indeed he demonstrated this. Chris and Steph have very different but extremely complimentary voices delivered with much passion and intensity on old blues country numbers by the likes of Memphis Minnie and Son House, as well as their own Kill It Kid material, and at the prompting of Chris’ mum we were lucky enough to be treated to Wedding Bells, by Hank Williams. Super stuff, and as well as playing in this brilliant format we are also blessed to have them playing regularly in the Jug Jaw’s Beat Club house band Lank Smith and the Pythons downstairs in the same venue.
You can catch Kill It Kid at the end of their current tour when they play a homecoming gig at Open on 8 November. They have recently loaded some stunning videos on YouTube of their incredible Abbey Road Sessions, with Hurts to be Loved by You, as impressive and moving as just about anything I’ve heard, with gorgeous arrangement.
Caroline is also a belter of a song and so very catchy. They have a super video to accompany the single. I was fortunate to be there for parts of the videoshoot and it is fascinating to see the end result.
Paul Liddell, from Sunderland, is something of a Grapevine regular down the years but this was actually my first time hearing him play. He is most certainly gifted and hugely talented, without his band he creates live layers to the songs, backing and building the songs with the use of technical wizardry and gadgetry but playing totally organically. There cannot be much margin for error performing like this which goes to show how accomplished and confident in his playing he must be, but it never detracts from the songs themselves which are tender and interesting, I loved especially the song about letting go of the little worries our minds can occupy themselves with. The set was predominantly made up of his own compositions but there were a couple of covers, one by Bruce Springsteen and the other an absolutely extraordinary and remarkably brilliant Don’t Cry for Me Argentina. Inspired, as I would have never expected to hear this played in such a format but it worked, and even featured Paul on trumpet at one stage. He pulled off quite a feat with this song. Highly impressive and a lovely, friendly man too. We had a brief chat and a funny misunderstanding about me being in the Vagaband as I was clutching my just purchased Medicine for the Soul 12″ vinyl pressing and we talked a bit about this and the band, who he had heard good things about. The following night he headlined the Green Note in Camden. I have a friend who recently started work there and she told me too how good Paul’s set was when we spoke some days later.
It feels like I say after each and every Grapevine I attend that it was special, but it always is! It’s a good arrangement in a lovely bar with friendly staff and a promoter who is running the nights so clearly and obviously out of a love for the music and the people who play and those that make the effort to come along that this in itself is infectious and creates a positive atmosphere. Coupled with the fact that the audience is made up of more music lovers who have come to listen to great music it is obvious why the artists come back time and time again. Steve – a man of great integrity, and the enthusiasm of a teenager – has introduced me to so much great music and I am eternally grateful for that, and trust his judgement, so if artists are playing whose names are new to me, I know I shall be introduced to more artists that I will love.
Thanks to Paul Liddell, Blood Bird, and as always, Steve and Jan, and all at Bedfords.
words and photos, richard shashamane 2014 all rights reserved. Photos not to be used without permission.