TV Smith, The Crows, Lost Soul
Mello Mello, Liverpool
Sunday 9th December 2012
The Rebellion Xmas Bash (LTW review) had frankly left me a tad jaded; 14hours of punk rock madness, couple of hours travelling either way, perhaps one Red Stripe too many…
What was needed was something a little mellower, but still with that required edge. Thankfully Pete Bentham and his ever on the ball Free RockâNâRoll nights back in Liverpool were hosting an acoustic evening in the rather more genteel surrounding s of Mello Mello.
First up was Lost Soul aka Wayne the ex-front man for the now defunct Kings Of The Delmar who having split from that outfit has moved to Germany where he constantly travels performing his self composed songs literally surviving hand to mouth; an album ‘The Company Of Strangers’ was released back in February 2012 (LTW review) though that featured a couple of additional musicians.
Tonight Wayne took to the stage armed with just an acoustic guitar â some 250 miles away another bloke was also doing the same, however he had a TV audience of 9 million, and four no-marks sat in front of him, an army of stylists and spin doctors presenting him and his âstoryâ as though he was the only person ever to pick up a guitar. The difference here was that Lost Soul exposes himself, there is no razzmatazz to hide behind, no lasers and pyrotechnics to enhance the audience experience; Lost Soul delivers his songs with themes of anti fascism, lost love, in short his real life experiences in the raw â these are carefully crafted folk songs, his voice flits from rage to whisper as befits the lyrical passage. Donât be fooled by the X-Factor, for real songs of life and living seek out Lost Soul.
This was the final night of a short UK tour for The Crows, having travelled up from the Rebellion Xmas bash the previous day, a four piece consisting of Richie (Guitar) who also plays in Biteback, Pascal Briggs (Guitar) who has a long lineage of bands including work with TV Smith, then dual vocalists Mandy ex of Mere Dead Men and Jennie Russell-Smith. Despite the punk rock credentials this was no ‘unplugged’ session, their songs have been crafted to be played by an acoustic four piece, the balance between guitar and voice is perfect, Mandy and Jennie harmonise perfectly; Jennie’s Hartlepool roots provide a deep harder edge to the vocals which are offset by Mandy’ raised pitch; darkness and light merging into one. Jennie takes time to introduce ‘When All The Lights Have Died’ which was written in response to the death of Poly Styrene, and ‘Monday Morning Friends’ dedicated to everyone in the audience. Both Richie and Pascal are accomplished musicians and with equal input from Jennie and Mandy have created a set of songs that whilst melancholic in tone also have moments you could sing along to, perhaps even dance to…they concluded with ‘Didn’t Run’ and politely stepped from the stage. I caught up with Jennie a short time later who confirmed that The Crows are set to record an album in Berlin in early 2013 - certainly one for the diary, The Crows are a very promising proposition, a group who are pushing essentially folk music in a new driving energetic direction without resorting to the all too common pipes and whistles. They really are very, very good.
By the time TV Smith took to the stage a healthy crowd were in attendance, hardly surprising – Smith has fronted The Adverts who were responsible for some of the earliest punk gems and on via The Explorers and The Valentines to today when he is rightly revered across the globe as a punk road warrior, tonight though itâs just Tim in his uniform bleached trousers, and distressed T-shirt wrapped around his painfully thin frame, clutching a battered guitar.
With a catalogue spanning nearly 40yrs he has an enormous selection of songs to chose from, the set is clearly very fluid, Smith doesn’t have a set list, he decides on song choices from chatting to the crowd prior to the gig, and from audience reaction to each song, as such the setÂ sways back and forth from The Adverts ‘Bored Teenagers’ and ‘No Time To Be 21’ right up to the wonderful ‘Complaints Dept’ and ‘Coming Into Land’ as Smith invites us to welcome the forthcoming revolution. Like with Lost Soul, Smith has lived long enough and seen enough to know that manufactured pap like the X-Factor are mere distractions, noise to drown out the hardship that rages all around us…towards the end Pascal Briggs joins him on stage strengthening the sound; TV Smith plays for an hour and a half, frankly he could of played all night â his voice has a harmonious edge, a timbre that adds poignancy to his lyrics, he has belief in his music and belief in his lyrics, that belief, the passion that drives him on is written across his face as he sings his songs â why would anyone need someone âmentoredâ by Lewis Hamiltonâs girlfriend when TV Smith is already out there.