By Stephanie Grimshaw
This is the first live music venue I’ve been in that sports a carpeted floor since I last went to a karaoke night. It feels strange, but warm and comforting nonetheless and we position ourselves at the top balcony for a birds eye view of the stage.
First to adorn tonight’s stage is Dr Andrew ‘Blind Boy’ Butler as host and compare for the evening and welcomes the first act on stage to the sounds of a Jews Harp…Ivan Campo are a three piece semi acoustic act from Preston with a chilled out ‘nu-folk’ sound to the beginnings of their set.
They start slowly with gentle and tender songs which could almost provide a soundtrack to an imagined walk in the park, with sporadic bursts of sunshiny Spanish classical guitar.
Melodic and hypnotic, the tempo increases and the songs begin to sound much fuller, combining xylophones and maracas alongside keyboards and harmonica. Their vocal harmonies are strong and enchanting. A lovely way to start the evening.
Everyone is waiting in anticipation of the main event however, Gideon Conn’s ‘New Bop Sounds’ album launch, and our ears are filled with songs that will remind you of being young, familiar pop pieces such as 10CC’s ‘Dreadlock Holiday’ and Toto’s ‘Africa’.
Perhaps a sign of the way in which Gideon wishes us to remember his music? Fully fledged pop masterpieces that will lend themselves to the dulcet tones of anyone who dares to belt them out.
The band are on stage as Gideon arrives, and are straight in with the infectious R&B/trip-hop tribute: ‘I want you around’, to waving arms from the thronging dancing fans.
The kind of music that Gideon Conn can produce could be described as folk/hip-hop/rock/swing, which is confusing when read on paper, but not when you see them live.
Their next is ‘Yes no maybe’, a Rock’n’Roll swing jazz number with a giddy brass element. Everyone in the audience is smiling. I’m beaming from ear to ear.
The atmosphere is so welcoming and happy (coupled with the carpet) I feel like I’m at my Grandma’s. The erratic tempo of their different songs are flanked with comedy banter and staccato dance moves as they take us through ‘Mighty Lightening’ and ‘Wild Fire’- a slower song with a sexy trumpet solo.
The tempo slows altogether as Gideon is joined on stage by a female guest vocalist, who’s name I’m afraid I don’t catch over the noisy, albeit appreciative audience.
It’s almost time to draw the night to a close, but before we go we are treated to one of the best covers I’ve heard in ages, Elkie Brooks’ ‘Sunshine After The Rain’. A truly northern song (both Gideon and Elkie are from Prestwich), glistening with ambivalence, lamenting lost love with such optimistic overtones it could be confused for a teenager.
The going home song this evening is ‘State of The Nation’, the original working title for the album being launched tonight. A genius offering released on Skinny Dog Records. Out now.