Radio Starlion – Live Review 27th September 2011
MARPLE CRICKET CLUB, BOWDEN LANE, STOCKPORT, CHESHIRE SK5 6ND
I especially wanted to see Liam Blake, whom Alan Ovington has already interviewed for Radio Starlion (see link below) and who we are hoping to have in for an acoustic session soon. Fortunately the worrying breakdown and 20 minute standstill of my train from Manchester Piccadilly (!) coincided with some technical problems at the venue, so a later start than publicised meant I was indeed lucky enough to see Liam Blake who was first to play.
I have really been enjoying the tracks from Liam’s album ‘You And Other Stories’ featured on his mySpace recently, on Alan’s recommendation, but his live performance gives a much rounder expression of his talent, such that I enjoyed his set even more than I expected to. His voice, as Phil Jupitus has described, is indeed ‘achingly lovely’, his songs are thoughtful, and often emotionally profound, drawing on his own experiences, yet unselfconscious, accessible and natural, his guitar playing is a clear, confident picking style, faultless yet soulful (my husband caught me nodding wisely in appreciative recognition as a much less accomplished guitar player!), and his rapport with the audience is genuinely friendly and appreciative.
His sound is distinctive and very definitely his own but, perhaps needlessly, we all seem to want to compare someone new to our ears with someone familiar. Danny McNamara of Embrace puts him ‘somewhere between Jeff Buckley and Nick Drake’. I see that, but would make a less tragic comparison to James Taylor and maybe also Gordon Lightfoot, whose songs seem to voice universal experiences in a similarly unique way. Since the gig I have also been ‘youTubling’ (!) and found some wonderful clips (see links below).
Liam has already been noticed by the BBC, having been on Aled Jones’ show, which he told me after the gig he really enjoyed despite the early start (!), and he is due to play an ‘Intimate Show’ for BBC Radio Lancashire on 20 October (see link below for tickets). This is lovely, and clearly well deserved as he has been working hard at this for some years, but I wonder if he’d now consider an appearance on Radio Starlion to be a step down! He assured me not! – Jeanette Howlett
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