Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Live in 2019: Zervas & Pepper live at Acapela Studios, Pentyrch, Cardiff on Saturday 5th October 2019

Two days after seeing one of the best gigs I've seen at Acapela with The Blackheart Orchestra, I find myself back in my seat for the second gig at Acapela in two days and by jove, it was another cracker. 

I've been telling Paul Zervas & Kath Pepper to play Acapela Studios for years. I could see the marriage of their glorious acoustic harmonies with the sonic possibilities of The Chapel would delight an Acapela crowd so it was with huge pleasure that I got to see this realised.

Paul & Kath were joined by their usual guitarist Simon Kingman on electric guitar and Charlie Piercy on Keyboard and electric guitar. And of course, the two Cigar Store Indians on silent backing vocals and intensive staring. The duo are currently riding high on the release of their latest album, Endless Road, Restless Nomad. So we were treated to a plethora of new material and some Sure Fire Hits from the Z&P Catalogue. It was more or less a hometown gig for the band and the crowd were certainly up for a good time.
They kicked off with 4 songs from the new album which established the form of the show (and albums for that matter) where Paul and then Kath take on lead vocal duties on each song.

So we get Cards, Sad Pariah, Endless Road and Restless Nomad.

Endless Road

Ever since the release of their debut album, Somewhere In The City, the band have been developing their own sound, based on the gorgeous harmonic blend of Paul & Kath's voices. Their sound is instantly recognisable in it's late 60s/early 70s West Coast instrumentation and harmonies. It brings some much needed sunshine into a rainy Cardiff evening as the remnants of Storm Lorenzo continue to push into the Welsh Coast. 

We are once again treated to the usual two set format which is now the staple of the vast majority of Acapela gigs. It was also a pleasure to hear yet new arrangements as we hear the songs without the usual Drums and Bass accompaniment. Charlie adding some extra electric is a pleasure as Paul sticks to his acoustic for the evening.

One of my favourite Z&P tunes came up next with the title track of their Abstract Heart album.

Abstract Heart

How many times does one of YOUR favourite artists namecheck Lord Byron in their between song banter? Well, Paul Zervas does as he introduces the next track, from the album Wilderland, Mazeppa and The Wild Horse. 

Now right in the groove of the evening, the band start to relax and have a bit of banter with the crowd and showed how humourous they are which is another dimension not seen in their recorded music but welcomed all the same. With it being in Cardiff, it was a crowd who already knew a lot of the songs played tonight but judging from the huge queue at the Merch Stand at the end of the evening they still managed to introduce some new converts into the world of Zervas & Pepper.

A few more songs later and we're at the end of Part One with a spirited two guitar attack of There Is Only Love from the latest album.

There Is Only Love

Part Two is dedicated to older material as we start the half with Hotel Bible - about those Gideon Bibles that are found in hotel room all over the world.
Yes, it is certainly a fan's favourite half as the next song is the gorgeous Living In A Small Town from the Lifebringer album which features Kath's gorgeous lead vocals. You really could close your eyes and imagine the smell of jasmine, magnolia and other exotic fragrances of Laurel Canyon. Well, I could anyway.

Living In A Small Town

On previous tours, the band have ended their set with one of their earliest songs, Cigar Store Indian, with it's audience participation on vocal chanting but in a change from previous years it doesn't finish the set tonight and the Acapela crowd gave it their best Indian Chanting.

The next two songs are also crowd favourites with One Man Show and King Of The Skies building on the success of this 'Greatest Hits' Part Two.

It's then the last song of the set as the band turn to Lifebringer once again for the excellent Buffalo Crow.

Buffalo Crow

But there was always the chance of an Encore. Z&P have always taken the opportunity to revisit some classic songs from the 70s in their shows in the form of delicious cover versions. Tonight we are treated to a lovely version of the Neil Young classic, Old Man from 1972's Harvest album. One day, I'd love to see a covers album of all of the cover songs that Paul & Kath have treated us to over the years. Although my suggestion of a KISS cover still goes unheeded. Maybe they're keeping Shout It Out Load for the album!!

Neil Young - Old Man

After some rapturous applause the band decide to leave the audience on an upbeat note as they treat us to the final song, the excellent Miller.


The end of a perfect Acapela Debut for Zervas & Pepper. They really have couldn't have played it better. The sound was brilliant, as usual at Acapela and the song choices had songs for fans old and new. And talking of old and new, the band have a great Crowdfunding Project at the moment as they are trying to get ALL of their albums - including the debut Somewhere In The City - which was limited on a cd release back in 2011, which contained songs like this beauty, released on Vinyl. The format which this band were made for.
Startin Over

So, if you want to invest in some beautiful songs on the perfect format for them you should click on the link below to check out the Project.

Twitter - @zervaspepper

1 comment:

  1. Spot on Nick Beautifully written and summed up to perfection. I love the pictures and videos. It's like revisiting it again and that's what it's all about for me. Great job.