Sunday, 16 March 2014

Live in 2014: Henry Priestman at The Chattery, Swansea - Saturday March 16th 2014

It was another great night at The Chattery in Swansea last night as Henry Priestman came to town.

There are not many performers who have written some of the best songs released in the 1980s and then disappear from view for twenty years only to reappear and produce two classic albums that are totally removed from the 80s pop heydays. Henry Priestman is certainly one of a kind. But more of Henry later.

The support slot was sublimely fiiled by Welsh Songstress Lowri Evans who produced an engaging set highlighting her obvious songwriting skills. Accompanied by her partner Lee Mason, she played songs in both  Welsh & English. She has shades of the wonderful Cerys Matthews in her voice - not unusual considering they come from the same geographical location in West Wales - more or less.

It's not often that I am moved to purchase an album by a support act but I bought Lowri's latest, Corner Of My Eye and will investigate earlier releases too.

Following Lowri's performance, Henry then took to the stage. Most of the set is based around this two solo albums 2008's The Chronicles Of Modern Life and this years 
The Last Mad Surge Of Youth.

Henry has always been one of us. By this I mean a man with a social conscience and a champion of the proletariat. Even as a young man with The Christians, he sang songs of socialism, strife and above all, Hope.

But he is no wide eyed youth anymore and the passage of time has influenced his songwriting. Without the trappings of the band and a stripped down production, Henry's two solo albums are very direct and personal.

Henry has a very witty personality and his onstage recollections are entertaining and informative.

Ably supported by Loved Up Les (TM) on guitar & occasional bass drum, Henry played a set of two halves. He opened the show with the song Old - which speaks for itself.

For somebody who is over 50, Henry's two albums hold special resonance. Indeed, when Chronicles came out in 2008, the first track, Don't You Love Me No More, which he pays tonight, came a week after I had been made redundant from a company who I had been with for 23 years. and it gave me a smile in times of doubt. Listen to the song for its relevance.

During the show, Henry was joined on stage by special guest Radio Wales presenter Alan Thompson on bass duties. Looking rather dashing with his Hofner inspired McCartney Beatle Bass.

Henry did play a moving version of The Christians song of hope Ideal world.

Not all Henry's song are about the hardships of life or getting old. Some are about love and hope. Joined on stage by Lowri, he played a beautiful version of Valentine Song from the new album.

During the encore, Henry and Les were joined on stage by Alan, Lowri and Lee for a rousing version of Irish Jig.

If you are my age - over 50 - Henry's albums of observations are essential listening. Nobody quite does Sliver Angst like Henry. If you're younger, seek the albums out anyway, as they show a man at the peak of his powers. You'll be well rewarded for your investment.

Twitter - @HenryPriestman


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