Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Live Music Review: Eilen Jewell at The Round Newcastle, 02/05/08 (and gigs from Billy Bragg and Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings too!)

Set list:

Rich Man's World
Dusty Boxcar Wall - mp3
Heartache Boulevard
Boundary County - mp3
Mess Around
Gotta Get It Right
In The End
Fist City (Loretta Lynn - apparently it is tradition to do at least one Loretty song per gig)
Too Hot To Sleep
High Shelf Booze
Fine and Mellow (Billie Holiday)
Back To Dallas
Taggin' Along (George Jones - as performed with Jewell's gospel group, The Sacred Shakers)
Where They Never Say Your Name - mp3
Blue Highway
The Darkest Day (Loretta Lynn)
Thanks A Lot (Charlie Rich)
If You Catch Me Stealing (Bessie Smith medley - another Jewell tradition for ending the show)


Six Days On the Road (Carl Montgomery and Earl Green - sung by drummer Jason Beek)
Blow It All Away

This gig formed part of Eilen (it's pronounced E-len, rhyming with feelin'...I had only ever seen it written down and was pronouncing it Eye-len...oops!) Jewell's first UK tour, a stop off point before heading across to Kilkenny for the roots festival there. She described Newcastle as having a "cool, urban feel" akin to Boston or Philadelphia, and told us that this was a pleasant surprise as, when she had seen it written down as Newcastle upon Tyne, she had thought it sounded "snooty" (methinks that anyone who knows Newcastle may well be chuckling to themselves at this point).
Jewell is a young country-jazz singer born in Idaho, based in Massachusetts. She has a woozy, dreamy voice that very much lends her own personality to any song she sings. Tonight, the sound was amazing throughout and the band played skillfully together; I was particularly impressed by the guy on double bass, and guitarist Jerry Miller was also great, despite making bizarre mouth movements as he played! Eilen herself was chatty and personable and, as you will see above, they really did put in a lot of set for the price of one's ticket - a set comprising, in addition to Jewell originals, covers of songs by several country and jazz greats.
This was an excellent gig, and Eilen Jewell is someone that I would definitely recommend catching live if you can. Her voice, in its unhurried, lazy Sunday afternoon, way is strong and consistent and the sound she offers really is something a bit different.
As for the venue...I had never before been to The Round. A small venue predominantly used for small-scale theatre productions, it was charming and intimate. A gorgeous little place.
And, yes, on this occasion, the photograph at the top was taken by my own fair hands! Better than my efforts at The Breeders concert anyway!
The Eilen Jewell track Rich Man's World has previously featured on Ceci N'est Pas un Blog both here and here.

And now for a couple of (very brief) reviews of a couple of gigs I somehow never got around to writing about...

Billy Bragg at The Sage, Gateshead (Hall One), 29/04/08

I regret that I did not find time to write a longer review of this gig closer to the time, as is truly was excellent. This latest tour has been just Bragg and his guitar...well, guitars...anyway, just him up there on stage on his own. The Sage, whilst a beautiful, top-of-the-range venue with wonderful acoustics, can often lack a lot in atmosphere. But on this occasion, Billy's warm, down-to-earth personality filled the whole venue remarkably well. And this is one of his gifts...being able to relate to his audience as if he is talking to you as individuals, or certainly a group of friends. He is humble and self-deprecating, at the same time passionate and inspiring. He played for about two hours in total and, fortunately, this meant that a good chunk of the songs were from his back catalogue (as his most recent effort was, on the whole, extremely disappointing). There was a standing ovation and everything!

You can read about the last time I saw Billy Bragg perform (when I met him too!) here.

Levi Stubbs' Tears - Billy Bragg

Old Clash Fan Fight Song - Billy Bragg

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings at The Sage, Gateshead (Hall Two), 19/04/08

This evening was, sadly, very disappointing. The Dap Kings (who, if you are not familiar with their oeuvre, as well as backing Sharon Jones, played on both Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse's most recent albums) were brilliant, professional, expert at what they do. Sharon Jones, on the other hand, was not happy with the sound...which meant her stropping on and off the stage three times like a diva, talk-singing about how upset she was with this for the majority of the gig, and generally putting a dampener on things. This was a shame because, in the parts where she was on form, she was fabulous...belting them out and dancing around the stage like a mad woman. The ground floor level turned into one big dance floor and it was like being at Wigan Casino or some other old-school Northern Soul venue. If she had just got on with doing what she does best, it would have been an excellent show.

The warm-up act for this gig is also worth a mention; they were Monty Casino, a six-piece offering a big mash up of soul-funk-disco-acid jazz, whose lead singer, Jess, is a Newcastle lass, although they have now moved on to pastures new. They were cracking and are very much worth checking out!

How Do I Let A Good Man Down - Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings

Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In - Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings

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