Live Review | The Greystones, Sheffield | Review by Allan Wilkinson
It really is testament to an artist’s consummate professionalism when a sparse audience is rewarded with such an utterly superb performance. Some would just go through the motions or at least take the opportunity to rehearse; maybe try out a couple of new ideas, toss in a new half-written song and the like. Certainly not tonight though. The Greystones was indeed a little thin on the ground in terms of numbers, despite the venue playing host to songwriters of the stature of Canada’s Stephen Fearing and Northern Ireland’s Andy White. After a good ten years or so of sporadic writing sessions, the two songwriters were together on stage in order to perform some of the songs recently released on their debut Fearing and White album. With the instruments on stage creeping dangerously close to out-numbering the audience, the two musicians alternated between a twelve string miniature, a resonator, a couple of electric (semi-acoustic and Gibson SG) guitars, together with Andy’s faithful Epiphone, a version of the Hofner Beatle-bass, during a couple of sets of songs that included exciting versions of “Under the Silver Sky”, “You Can’t Count on Anybody Anymore” and album opener “Say You Will”. With no additional technical trickery, the duo brought much of the album to a live setting, with the aid of an effects microphone for the set closer “Rockwood” and the earlier “Mothership”, the effect originally captured for the album on toy walkie-talkies! Performing mainly songs from the collaboration album, the two songwriters brought to the set one or two songs from their own respective solo repertoires such as Stephen’s “The Big East West” and “Black Silk Gown”, whilst Andy threw in “Italian Girls on Mopeds” and a delightfully raw “Turn Up the Temperature on the Machine of Love”, with the additional help of the now familiar stage accessory, the stomp box. Cheerful throughout, these two friends demonstrated their mutual respect for one anothers material, contributing to each others songs with some intuitive accompaniment. With a couple of sets of highly melodic songs, such as the gorgeous “Faithful Heart” and the equally tender “If I Catch You Crying”, the duo had some fine off-the-cuff banter between the songs, signifying their enjoyment of being on the road together. With both Stephen and Andy being on first name terms with everyone in the room, much of the before, between and after-set mingling was relaxed, much in the same mannaer as at the now popular series of house concerts up and down the country; the night had a similar intimate atmosphere. Whether on or off stage, the two musicians were highly approachable and good fun to be around. Hopefully, the rest of their current tour will entice people away from their flat screens in order to catch something exceptionally good indeed.