Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Live In 2016: Down By The River 4 with M.G. Boulter, Jess Vincent & Blind River Scare

Tim Manning - aka Blind River Scare is building up quite a heritage with the Down By The River concerts.
Held in Barnabas Arts House in Newport, South Wales, the concerts are based downstairs in the intimate staged area.
It's a case of bring your own drinks, and in my case the now traditional scented candle, and settle down to watch the three artist concert.

Now on it's 4th show - Down By The River tonight features Blind River Scare up first - as always - tonight it's only Tim with Stuart on other duties down west.

The Blind River Scare play Americana/Alt Country songs, self penned by Tim Manning and are of a high quality indeed and tonight is no exception.

Tim always opens the Down By The River gigs and tonight is no exception. 

Tonight he gives us the usual top-notch spirited performances of several of his best known songs.

We are treated to Keep Saying Sorry, When You Walk Away and even a new song called But Still You Stay.

At Down By The River 3, Tim and Stuart performed an excellent version of Wreck On The Highway by Bruce Springsteen and tonight he performed another unexpected cover to the delight of the Newport audience. A terrific version of the Jackson Browne song Rosie.

Tim then ended his set with No Remorse Guilt Or Shame from his latest release Point Of No Return.

So a great start to a great evening.

Tonight's first guest artist is the Wiltshire based Singer Songwriter Jess Vincent. Jess has recently released her latest album Shine and took to the stage alone with just her guitar and ukulele for company. Blessed with a lovely voice, she has a certain attractive vulnerability which suits her songs perfectly.
Tonight she opens her set with the plaintive Sail Away, which is the opening song from her second album Seesaw Dreams.

In her nine songs set - Jess showed how her songwriting has matured over the three albums she has released so far.

The second song in the set was also from Seesaw Dreams and was a rather lovely version of Annie Bonnie - together with an engaging explanation about the genesis of the song.


Next up we had a lift in the mood with the upbeat title track from Jess' latest album Shine. I can hear echoes of Kate Bush in her voice - no bad thing - and it fits in perfectly to the folk stylings of her songs. But I think there is a hidden depth within her which so far has yet to be explored - much in the way that Bella Hardy has blossomed with her recent With The Dawn album.

We had a nice surprise next with Jess giving us a version of the traditional John Hardy. Using just hand percussion it highlights her delicate voice and got a great reaction from the audience.

It was a gig where the audience were appreciative of all the tracks that Jess performed tonight and was shown by the brisk business that Jess was doing after her set at the merchandising table. Always a good sign.

It was clear that Jess' performance won her lots of new fans tonight - but she wasn't finished yet.

Jess is friends with singer songwriter Reg Meuross and she played a gorgeous cover of one of his songs tonight - Jealous.

with two songs still to go in the set, Jess' gave us a glimpse into her softer side with two lovely tracks - Love Me True and Fetch My Heart.

Jess is certainly a singer songwriter to watch out for. She seemed confident up on stage and had a delicate demeanor which was both engaging and captivating. This was a perfect venue for Jess as she had the intimacy of the venue and an audience that was prepared to remain silent and listen. And they were rewarded with a performance to cherish.

The final artist in tonight's triple header was MG Boulter - or Matthew to his friends. Tonight he was accompanied by  Lizzie O'Connor on Mandolin, percussion and vocals and Paul Ambrose on upright bass and vocals.

Matthew (MG) has just released his fourth solo album - With Wolves The Lamb Will Lie - and tonight's set included several tracks from this excellent new album.

And he opened tonight with Someday The Waves from the new album.

Many of Matthews songs tonight will be reflective. Like Jess' songs, they sound particularly clear and delicate in tonight's venue as I sit there with candles on the tables and the people in the audience giving the songs their complete attention - it reminds me very much of the audiences I have experienced in The Chattery in Swansea. And it's a complete joy. It's great to be able to sit in an audience where you don't have people talking throughout the performance or clanging drink bottles at the bar.

For the second track of the evening - Matthew turns to his previous album, The Water and the Wave to give us a song called Above The Cafe Curtain.

Matthew then sticks with the Water album and plays a spirited version of Half Life where Lizzie and Paul get a chance to show why they are accompanying Matthew tonight. Excellent music indeed.

Matthew has acquired a witty line of banter between the songs and continues to lighten the mood throughout tonight's performance.

As tonight's show is a chance for Matthew to promote his brand new album it would be remiss if he didn't concentrate tonight's on said album.

With that in mind the next 6 songs are all from With Wolves The Lamb Will Lie.

Brother Uncles, Carmel Oakes, Love Trees, Inside The Cellar, Lalita and His Name Is Jean show what a fabulous alum this is and the songs all sound excellent in their live interpretations.

Matthew has a voice that is reminiscent of James Taylor with a little bit of Paul Simon thrown in for good measure.

For the next song, Matthew turns to the EP he released with Samantha Whates called The Boatswain's Manual and a track called Westcliff, which Matthew went on to explain is a song based on a story of Neil Young visiting the UK back in the 70s where he wrote a song called Daughters, which was never released. Matthew's song is called Westcliff - and it's superb.

The set tonight closes with another song from the new album called appropriately The Last Song.

But the audience wanted some more and Matthew, Paul & Lizzie obliged by playing Evelyn from The Water album.

It was great to see such an appreciative audience at the venue tonight and especially good to see the Merch Table doing some brisk business.

Tim Manning is building up a good venue down there in Newport and it's good to see the shows being supported.

With Down By The River 5 already being planned I'm looking forward to breaking out my can of V and scented candle once again in May.

Twitter - @blindriverscare



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