Sunday, November 30, 2008

The lore according to Wendell Gee (a guest blogger lends a hand);

Just lately I have been having strange feelings. Over the last couple of years I have suffered from a falling interest in music – nothing terminal you understand, but one of those fallow periods in which very little excites those sound nodules in your brain. Everyone has them. Some make it through the other side, some shrug and accept that maybe music simply doesn’t float their boat anymore. I’ve been waiting for the gates on the other side for a while now, and since seeing The Feeling and Billy Bragg in recent weeks, and now Songs From The Blue House with Kim Richey on Saturday night, there seems to be a light, just over there…We leave Ipswich at 5.30pm, amidst the football traffic and the early evening November rain, and hope that reports of an A12 hold-up are exaggerated. In the car is bass player Gibbon, fresh from carrot related domestic incidents, guitarist and emcee Skirky, and the nominal guitar roadie – me. We stop for dinner at a fast food joint famous for it’s unique blend of herbs and spices, and I insist on sitting ‘in’ to eat my fries and coleslaw – to ensure that, as a confirmed vegetarian for over 25 years, I get the full experience during this rare visit to the church of modern life.We arrive at the venue to find a barn full of Blue Housers, but only a couple of Kim Richey’s band, and it takes a long time to say hello and hug everyone before tea is brewed. With ten minutes to go before doors open the lost Londoners arrive in a flurry of equipment, leads and soundchecks, leaving Blue House the only option available – that of just making sure everything works. There is, however, a general feeling of optimism, The High Barn being one of the band’s favourite haunts, and the soundman being familiar with both the band and their songs means that, well, it’ll be fine.My role becomes a bit woolly after taking the guitar stand out of it’s bag, but I fill time with a bottle of Brewers Gold and a chat with Andrew ‘Toddler’ James, friend and former band-member of both Gibbon and Skirky, and as the barn fills up with the well-dressed and polite audience, the Blue House take the stage. The previous night they played a two-setter in North Norfolk, and the benefits associated with playing regularly are clear from the start. Tonight it’s a 40 minute support slot, the set is a selection of songs from ‘Too’ and ‘Tree’, they look and sound comfortable and confident, and it’s the best performance I’ve seen for a while.The vocals, especially Gibbon’s backing, are clear and bright, and Helen’s cold isn’t hindering but shifting the sound of her voice. The addition of Alone Me’s David Booth on drums is a big plus this evening. About half of Blue House’s songs benefit clearly from some percussion, and the other half sound good with it, and it’s a shame that they mostly do without. The crowd are quiet and respectful, with one shout for ‘Incredible’, and it’s over almost before it has begun.Kim Richey is, apparently, responsible for reviving James’ interest in music a while ago, and is also therefore partly responsible for the existence of Blue House. This is self evident while watching Parters watching Kim, but a quick scout around shows that most everyone is as entranced by the American’s songs and voice as the Blue Houser. This show is with her full UK band line-up who, with the exception of the drummer, all played on her new LP, Chinese Boxes. No surprises that the majority of the set is drawn from this LP, but Kim does a short solo spot in the middle of the set and almost instantly you feel drawn in to a much more intimate and cosy cocoon of her voice.Again the crowd seemed almost too polite, and Kim seemed less connected than she had a month or so back the last time she played with Songs from the Blue House, talking less and engaging with the audience less. No matter, her songs are beautiful, and they were played and sung beautifully by her band.More hugging means it takes nearly half an hour to actually leave the venue, and we are in the car just in time to hear Whispering Bob Harris play the new single by Thunder. All three of us are at a loss for words.However, and probably despite the new Thunder single, that light is a lot closer today than it was yesterday.

1 comment:

james.partridge said...

Stephen, you were a great roadie - you went to the Co-op and got tobacco. In the absence of anything to tune up or restring I'd say that was a good night's work. xx