Rosie Doonan

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

What Rosie Doonan did in 45 minutes at the Music Club tonight was something that many performers curiously avoid and that is to fill the room with space. It wasn’t only what she put into the performance; it was what she left out that made all the difference. There was no pointless strumming in 4/4 time, no obtrusive piano chords and not one unnecessary syllable uttered. It was, for all intents and purposes, the perfect gig. Yes, we would have liked longer, but isn’t this what makes us want to come back for more? Isn’t this why we buy the CD to take home? These are rhetorical questions by the way. With the standard of skill and musicianship found in young professionals in the folk and acoustic clubs nowadays, it is not uncommon to experience moments of complete bliss every now and then, moments when you not only shut up and pay attention, but almost hold your breath to fully benefit from what you are hearing from the stage. Tonight I was holding my breath so long that I almost required paramedics to administer shock treatment. Rosie Doonan is indeed this good, no question. Edge of the seat stuff. I recently caught Rosie at a gig in Wakefield with her full band that consisted of drums, bass and guitar as well as trumpet and tenor sax and having heard the new album, I anticipated one or two frills that might be noticeably missing in tonight’s solo performance. I have no doubt whatsoever that Rosie can pull off a solo gig, but the new album is so full of sound that I was having difficulty imagining what “That Boy” or “Moving On” would sound like without the full band treatment. Of course Rosie second guessed this and avoided those songs, choosing to concentrate on the sensitive stuff instead. “Time” is without question the best original song I have heard this year, in fact if it hadn’t been for Becky Unthank getting her tonsils around Robert Wyatt’s “Sea Song” this summer, I would have no difficulty in promoting it to best recording of anything this year. Both songs are performed equally well live or on record and both most definitely bring out the goose bumps. Rosie tried out a new and as yet untitled song as well as a couple of covers from two diverse sources, Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” and Ashley Hutchings’ “Brief Encounters”. It’s always nice to hear something recognisable in a live performance, whoever the singer might be, but in Rosie’s case, her own songs stand up on their own merit. In a fair world Rosie Doonan would be reaping the same rewards as Kate Rusby on the folk scene or at the very least the likes of KT’s Melua or Tunstall with songs as accessible as “Only One” or as moving as “Hold On” but we all know this is not a fair world. Rosie was the girl who needed time; I think her time has come, and about time too. For Bob’s 100th presentation since starting this club in September 2004, it is entirely fitting that, for this reviewer’s money, it was the best 45 minutes so far and by far. Stunning.