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OOTB 16 – 14 Feb 2002

Before I commence, Norman Lamont enjoyed the 12 Bar Club in London’s swanky west end, despite the rather unusual arrangement of having some of the audience very close and below you, and some of the audience very close and above you on a balcony, so he didn’t know where to look when performing. But he said he enjoyed the whole experience, and there is a chance to get paid as well, if you bring enough people to watch you. I don’t think they have an open mic night as such, but If you want to know more, their website is at www.12barclub.com.

Despite it being Valentine’s night, there wasn’t a surfeit of songs which celebrated the joys of love. Norman Lamont‘s “The Beggar Of Love” certainly didn’t, as the protagonist is “more candle than fire”. It’s the same with his new song, the atmospheric and totally brilliant “When I Went To Your House”, a Brel-ish piece that uses a sense of space to convey drama and emotional tautness. Maybe Norman had had an argument with the wife or something, as he followed that with “Living Waters”, which is an up tempo raging ragnarok of a work, drawing on a bluesy base with a hint of swing thrown in, and is all the better for it. “Bells Are Ringing For You Now” was more poignant, conveying a sense of loss with the melody and mid paced strumming. This man never plays a bad gig, as was evident from that performance and Saturday’s in The Maltings.

Riley and Ian‘s performance of “Surly Girls”, despite it’s sheer melodic beauty and comedy mouth-trumpet from Riley, wouldn’t be rallying anyone to the banner of Love either. Neither would “Half-One, All Of Your Money’s Gone”, with the lines “That girl, she’ll give you the world / One day, she’ll take it away”. Come to think of it, “She’s Looking For A Millionaire” doesn’t sound too promising either. But the effect as a whole was quite mesmerising, Ian’s beats and fill-ins on the djembe perfectly complementing Riley’s vocals, and the prairie twang of his guitar.

Colin Donati had an excellent set, ranging in style from the sing-a-long of “Daniel” to the Tom Waits -inspired “Euphemia” to an extremely original, end enjoyable version of “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”. We let him off with a cover because as well as being a pulsing, jazz-picked wonderful arrangement, Colin’s delay pedal was beset by gremlins, and he simulated a delay manually whilst singing. Now that’s what I call talented, and as audience member Bruce remarked when alluding to his guitar, “He can certainly play the thing”. Colin’s singing and playing have certainly come on a lot in the last few months, so I can only assume that he’s been locked in a basement somewhere with only his guitar for company.

Les Miseres were a cajun three piece with a line up of Riley on guitar and vocals, and a fiddle and accordion player. They made an impressively full sound for just three people, and it was foot-stompin’ fun. And, some of the songs were sung in that archetypal language of love, French, so I think we can say that they created a Valentine feel. Apparently their fiddle player has only been Brucehappy1playing it for 9 months, having switched from the bass, but I thought he’d been playing it all his life. The accordion player is equally good, and plays a most unusual looking squeeze box, impressively loud. Their gig on Sunday at the Forest Cafe was bloody good, and I can recommend going to see them when they play again.

Bruce Blacklaw finally achieved his lifetime ambition of winning the mystery prize, netting himself a shiny new mouth organ. Now the fellow’s got no excuse not to form a band and bring them down to OOTB.

Nelson

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