Mid September produced a really relaxed night at the Swan. We had a couple of numbers from David Gray, the Stones and Adele. Not the originals of course as that might have created a slightly bigger crowd but still very enjoyable.
Brian Rhodes started us out with David Gray's Sail Away. There is a line in it that goes "I've been talking total gibberish, falling in and out of bars." For some reason that escapes me I identified with that quite strongly. He followed it up with Snow Patrol's Set Down Your Glass, doing it with a very nice finger picking style. Brian can sing and can play - what's not to like.
This was followed by my own contribution. Inspired by Brian, I did an Andy Brown imitation of David Gray and Soft Cell's "Say Hello and Wave Goodbye" and inspired by George Ezra I did "Budapest". George is a young singer songwriter with a voice that sounds old and lived in. I wasn't able to imitate the being young bit so just tried to focus on being old and lived in.
When it comes to mature voices from young people Hank Williams probably takes the biscuit. He was only 29 when he died. James Porter gave us a good solid version of "I'm Still in Love with You". He made it sound like he was singing it to someone in the audience but looking around at the collection of elderly gentlemen in the pub I felt this might just possibly not have been the case. He then followed this with Dire Straits "So far Away" which he did with his usual sincerity making some complex bar chord look effortless.
John Nixon then did the Stones "Under my Thumb". This is a song that is about as politically incorrect as it is possible to be. After all it includes a line that launches a vicious attack on the character of Siamese cats. He followed it up with Queen's "Fat Bottom Girls" which is equally dodgy. The line that struck me was "take me to those lardy ladies every time". If Freddie Mercury's taste in women was for those with lardy legs then it may explain an awful lot.
Graham Morrell then introduced most of us to the Chris Knight songbook. He began with "Love and a .45" which informs us that "one will kill you and the other will keep you alive". There are times in the lives of many of us when we could be forgiven for not being entirely sure which one does which. This was followed by a contribution which gave less cause for speculation on the meaning of the words. It was an instrumental. Risotto Rag was a first class piece of work with bit of walking bass that had me thinking I ought to get my coat and sidle out quietly as this was different class.
We then went for a break before Brian returned to give us Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain". This was really nicely sung and was done with some very high quality right hand guitar work. I was just reaching for my coat again when I was put back on. I did a version of the Neville Brothers "Tell it Like it is". If you don't know the band check them out - the lead singer has just about the finest voice you will ever hear. I was hoping that most people didn't know the original and couldn't make any comparisons! I then went for one of my own compositions called "Undressed to the Nines". The idea was to hit three chords as loud and fast as I could and cover up the incompetence of the guitar work with interesting words.
So James didn't have too much problem following that! He did so with style and gave us "Spider and the Fly" by the Stones which includes the line "she looked about thirty". This was meant as an insult about her being so very old that no one could possibly fancy her. Now that's about the age that Mick is dating and being accused of baby snatching. He followed this with a much less well known song called "Paris" that was, I think I was told, from Erroll Garner and originated from Clive Palmer of the Incredible String Band. I have always had a deep prejudice against the Incredible String Band having seen them perform 45 years ago in Cardiff about two weeks before they split up. They stumbled about on stage under the influence of something a lot stronger than cheap Welsh lager and failed to sing in tune or remember most of the words and almost all of the music. So I was pleasantly surprised that I really enjoyed Brian's rendition. Perhaps he had taken fewer dodgy stimulants before getting on stage.
John Nixon then started to give us an Elton John song. But this was on the day that Elton had challenged President Putin to meet with him so that Elton could get Vladimir to soften his horrible stance on gay rights. The Russian secret service has a long reach and they successfully sabotaged these efforts. So instead we got an excellent version of Tom Petty's Free Falling. I felt this was a touch tactless as Brian had only recently chosen to amuse his children by falling off a climbing wall and was still nursing the bruises but it was a very good song done well. He went on to do Dylan's "To make you Feel my love" a song made famous by Adele.
Graham then raided the Chris Knight songbook again giving us "Something Changed" and "William". We were reliably informed that there are hundreds of American singers writing good simple songs. I leave you to speculate on what makes American writing so simple and whether it could have anything to do with the typical American's detailed and sophisticated analysis of the modern world. Either way the guitar work was far from simple with some lovely hammering on techniques being utilised along with sophisticated finger picking work.
The evening then moved on to a jam session which included "I Shot the Sheriff" and we all went home happy.