Cross Rhythms Green Belt Festival Review – 30th August 2011
LIAM BLAKE – Performance Café – 1:00pm
This was one of the sets I’d most wanted to see at Greenbelt. Those who’ve so far heard it are of one voice in proclaiming Liam’s ‘You And Other Stories’ one of the best albums of the year and all that was left for this reviewer to decide was whether Liam could deliver before a three quarters full Performance Café tent already thinking of prosaic matters like packing up tents and the journey home. In fact Liam triumphed, with the razor-sharpness of a singer/songwriter whose music is just what Phil Jupitus called it “achingly lovely”. Maybe it’s Liam’s rich, smooth voice with its arresting swoops into falsetto which draws us in. Or maybe Liam’s ability to weave evocative pictures with his lyrics yet never resorting to strained metaphor or tired cliché. Or perhaps Liam’s lilting folk pop – at the Café ably filled out by electric guitar, bass and percussion – which makes this songsmith so special. But special he is and everything about Laim’s set conveyed a gentle warmth that immediately engaged the audience, and after some of the angry polemic projected by other Greenbelt acts, demonstrated that sometimes gentle reflection generates more than angry rants. Some of the songs, like the evocative “For Your Sake” are from his album. Others like the eerily enigmatic “Strange Town” are newly minted. “Gypsy Fireflies” deftly depicts a girl’s ability to captivate (“He’s chasing all the dreams she’s weaving”) while “Heart & Soul”, Liam’s next single, was lifted by one of several fine electric guitar solos from his accompanists. Liam’s set prompted the man next to me to bay loudly for an encore (little chance on the tightly-scheduled Performance Café). I asked the fan where he’d heard of Liam and was told Radio 2. He raved over Liam’s live performance, calling it “very Fleetwood Mac”. Don’t know about the description but his enthusiasm bodes well for Liam’s future.
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