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Most of this blog is related in some way to the music, books and films produced by Gonzo Multimedia, but the editor has a grasshopper mind and so also writes about all sorts of cultural issues which interest him, and which he hopes will interest you as well.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

John Lees’ Barclay James Harvest/Gordon Giltrap and Oliver Wakeman - London, Islington Assembly Hall - 8th November 2013

BJH posterThe first thing you can’t help noticing about Gordon Giltrap (a legend of acoustic guitar to rival Renbourn and Williams, if ever there was one) and Oliver Wakeman (son of Rick, and like his father an ex-Yes-man and Strawb) is their sense of humour. 

For two men associated with musicianship, dexterity and a form of progressive rock some may misinterpret as ‘po faced’, they certainly enjoy a laugh, and bring a warmth to the proceedings as a result, interspersing each song with wry anecdotes about their careers, their non-prog-appreciating wives and the music of lesser-talented, French MOR pianists (I think you know who I mean...) that serve by way of fine contrast.

Sometimes, the perfection and technicality of Wakeman’s playing can both overshadow and sonically drown out Giltrap’s looser, more organic approach, but they still complement each other perfectly, and the addition of vocalist Paul Manzi (currently fronting the Heavy Metal Kids) on a couple of numbers brings yet another unexpected dimension. Rounding things up with what Giltrap calls a “medley of his hit”- ‘Heartsong’, they gave the fans enough entertainment to make them wish for more in future, which is, I imagine, what we’ll be seeing of them in 2014, especially now Esoteric Records (also home of JLBJH) are reissuing Giltrap’s s back catalogue.

Which brings us neatly, of course, to John Lees’ Barclay James Harvest themselves. Upon entering the Assembly Hall tonight, there’s a muted air of expectation coupled with a deep feeling of emotional connection - not that it’s unusual for prog fans to connect in any way with their favourite bands, or vice versa- but even by those standards, 2013, and this tour have marked a watershed of sorts for John Lees and his compadres. For these aren’t just any old shows, but the first shows since the release of ‘North’, the first album of new material by this line up, and the first Lees has had a hand in the creation of since ‘Nexus’ in 1999.


Read on...

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