Live at New Roscoe on Tuesday, 27th May 2003
I must admit, sitting in 'The Angel', (good cheap drinks here ladies and gentlemen), en route to 'The Roscoe' I was lost in the conversation from the other table - let's not go there but... all this talk of restaurants and diners, classics and Dorian modes; either I'm earwigging some sub-Pulp Fiction dialogue or you are really are just in it for the money. Why not play a cruise ship and just leave us alone for six months why don't you? Oh!
Meanwhile, aboard the good ship here-and-now, The New Roscoe is a great venue. For a start the barman will recommend a decent guest ale and you'll have change for two pound. The red lights, deep carpet, solid wooden tables and comfortable chairs set an agreeable environment. And tonight's acts are so worth sitting back and listening too.
Jon Gomm. What can you say? He plays guitar: two, three or maybe four times - all at once - in the same song - at the same time. Some of the best virtuoso solo performances you could hope to hear from a singer-songwriter (is it a competition? - I think not!... but...), If you closed your eyes there'd be an ensemble playing. 'I don't love you; somebody surely should' he sings on 'Hey Child' and it sticks in my face like a farewell kiss at the garden gate. I'd like to apologize but I really don't see why I should -You don't deserve to hear how good this guy plays. So I'll leave it at that.
Woody Mann? Well he's a rather handsome guy who lives in NYC on 42nd Street, on the 26th Floor. He studied under the Rev Gary Davies. He's really rather good too. No, Really... He writes songs in the stairwell and (viz.) appreciates natural acoustics. We're ranging from Deep South blues to Portugal Fada's, via the security guard at the apartment and a healthy lambasting of Dublya and TV evangelists. And that's just the theme - the content is awesome. From 1930s European influenced hot jazz cool to contemporary Raggish dance, Cat Burglars and narrative blues - all accompanied by an effortless claw-hammer technique. 'Recognition, fame and fortune don't mean a thing' he sings - and we felt special. When he plays along to that bloody clock's chime I think we even smiled. However, when he dedicates 'Lizboa' (a song written on the 26th floor stairwell) as ' a song for when your lovers left you and you wanna slash your wrists' - well, it's worth listening too. And he uplifts without being preachy. It's gentle, human and sounds altogether rather good actually. A well needed balm. Thank you.
Both acts tonight utilise their technology, which is refreshing considering that they are both so firmly entrenched in the sphere and history of acoustic guitar. Possibly not technologically determined, but microphones are used: tones are played with: reverbs are pulled out like full houses: resolutions are pointed at, occasionally met and more often than not teased out into threads that maybe lead to the bar and a soft, sweet ambience.
Not many Jazzers here, but there's a few. Guess the rest, like the retro-rockers, are sleeping early to catch the morning buzz - but really, you could've learnt so much here. This is style and content, solo work at its best; History, show and contemporary technique. It's all good. Yeah, we missed you. You might've learnt something tonight: if not just a little humility and awe. Oh, and the art of songwriting - it's Alive and kicking; that's official. And you know, deep down, it's even a little bit sexy. Perhaps, a little love lingers there still...
Singer-songwriter and virtuoso guitarist, described by Acoustic Magazine as "One of the world's most successful, gifted and inspirational guitar players"