I've seen some excellent shows over the last few years at Acapela Studios. But the one I was privileged to attend on Saturday 11th May was one of THE Best Gigs I have ever seen there.
The musicians who were performing were The Luke Jackson Trio - who consist of Luke Jackson on Vocals and acoustic guitar, Andy Sharps on Bass & Vocals and Elliott Norris on Drums, Guitar & Vocals.
I have seen Luke at least once a year since he released his first album to critical acclaim in 2012 with the Matyn Joseph produced More Than Boys. In 2013, Luke was pipped to the post of the BBC Folk Horizon Award by fellow Singer/Songwriting youngster Blair Dunlop. And it has been my delight to see how both of these artists have grown both as songwriters and performers in the past 7 years. Indeed I will be catching up with Mr Dunlop in a few weeks time. But tonight the Acapela belonged to Luke Jackson. And by God, he owned the venue!
Luke has the opportunity to play with Andy as a Duo or with Elliott added to create a trio. Tonight we are treated to the Trio performance.
Tonight Luke takes to the stage alone to perform a blistering version of Ain't No Trouble which can be found on his trio album - This Family Tree. And he blows the audience away immediately. It's remarkable how the strength and depth of his voice has increased in just the last year. Let alone since 2012.
Ain't No Trouble
You could literally feel the anticipation in the air as the audience realised what an evening they were in for. To rapturous applause, Andy and Elliott came to the stage and launched into a splendid version of Anything But Fate which morphs into the Motown classic, I heard It Through The Grapevine. Quite a leap I hear you Folk fans saying but not for this young man. Ever since his debut album, that voice has been his trademark and I hear as much Soul in hos voice as Folk. And thinking about it, one of the beauties of following both Luke and Blair Dunlop's careers has been to see them shake off their Folk roots to become impressive Singer Songwriters who have the ability to move between genres. It's a beautiful thing to see. And for me, Luke is now a Soul singer as much anything else.
Anything But Fate
The thing that made tonight SO special for me was to hear the quality of the new material that Luke and the boys are currently working on. With a new album hopefully before the end of the year it was a chance for Luke to try out new material before a live audience. And if the songs he played tonight, many peppered throughout the sets, is anything to go by, it'll be featuring once again in this blog but in the Albums of 2019 section.
We had a glorious new song next in the form of Honeycomb.
It's no surprise any more that a Trio can generate so much energy - it worked for The Police, Cream, ELP and many others in the past and works well too to Luke and his cohorts. And with Elliott being an accomplished guitar player there were enough colours in the sound tonight to provide plenty of contrast to the music.
In the first half, we are treated to more brand new songs such as Aimee, Heavy and Red Oak. And I have to say the quality of the new material is first class and shows even more progression in Luke's songwriting. As to what songs will finally make the cut for the new album, we'll have to wait and see but I'm sure it's destined to be brilliant.
Luke and the band bring the first half to a close with Sister from the Fumes & Faith album.
After a short break, the boys come back to the stage with an acapela version of Poor Johnny. What a great way to kick off the second half. If they hadn't already got the audience in the palm of their hand, this just sealed the deal.
A snippet of Poor Johnny from the night
Looking spookily like a young Brian Wilson in his white T Luke returns to the Trio album for the slinky Is It Me.
Is It Me
Again, the second half showcased two excellent new songs - Eliza Holt and A Queen In Her Own Way. I won't spoil these by revealing their genesis but it proved how adept Luke is now with his relationship with his audience. He has become quite the raconteur over the years and his explanation of how the songs came about is quite entertaining and engrossing.
On the night, these songs were on either side of Luke giving us a rather special version of Dylan's classic Forever Young. And you could have heard a pin drop in the audience. The great thing about Acapela audiences is that if the music demands it, they will sit and listen attentively.
It was downhill all the way with a trio of fabulous songs with Finding Home, Doctor and the Solomon Burke Classic, Cry To Me. And if you ever wanted proof that this boy has Soul - here it is - absolutely fabulous.
Cry To Me
This brings the show to an end and by now the crowd is ecstatic. There was no way on earth these guys were not coming back. And oh, how they came back. With an absolutely spine tingling version of Every Flame - which you'll see below.
The audience gave a standing ovation for this song alone.
And they still had one more surprise to go. A really show stopping version of The Road.
They guys left the stage to another standing ovation,
And as a coda to the show - five minutes plus after the show had finished, the audience were still singing On The Road as they left the building. I have NEVER seen this before at Acapela and even Luke came out with his phone to film the response. Incredible scenes.
And from someone SO young.
I cannot recommend Luke Jackson highly enough. A man of real talent and the knack of picking a really good cover to boot. See him as soon as you can.
Twitter - @lukepauljackson