Ruth and Gary Wells

Live Review | The Salutation, Doncaster | Review by Allan Wilkinson

Tonight saw the first in the new season of gigs at The Sal.  The club continues to book some of the finest musicians on the acoustic scene and this season we will be seeing the likes of Dick Gaughan, Vin Garbutt and Mike Silver as well as some return visits by the best of previous seasons, Eleanor McEvoy, Jez Lowe and Belinda O’Hooley (previously seen as part of Rachel Unthank’s Winterset) to name but a few.  Ruth and Gary Wells kicked off the season with a plethora of great songs from every corner of any self respecting record collectors stash.  We’re talking seriously eclectic plunder here, Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, Richard Thompson’s “The Sun Never Shines on the Poor”, Joan Osbourne’s “One of Us”, Nanci Griffith’s “A Hard Life Wherever You Go”, Cindi Lauper’s “Time After Time”, Eleanor McEvoy’s “Only a Woman’s Heart” and an unseasonal but sod it, it’s a great song anyway, “Fairy Tale of New York”.  I always want Gary to yell out, ala Shane MacGowan, “You’re a bum, you’re a punk, you’re an old slut on junk” but he never does.  It’s probably wise as I reckon Mrs Wells would kick him off the stage and out the door before you could say Pogue Mahone.  Ruth and Gary could play a stinker of a night and I’d still say nice things about them, but fortunately they never provide any such opportunity for that, they’re always pretty much on form and with impeccable taste to boot.  The support came in the form of our host Bob Chiswick who during his set, almost reluctantly sang his heartfelt song “Fresh Kills” in memory of the victims who perished in those terrible events of five years ago on this day.  Songs of this nature can go either of two ways; they can be perceived as sentimental and forced (in most cases) which can invariably leave you fidgetting around in agony for a few minutes or diversely, they can come across as heartfelt and poignant.  I’m glad to say that in the case of Bob’s live debut of this song, it was the latter.  I was touched.