JT Nero and Allison Russell

Live Review | Town Hall, Kirton in Lindsey | Review by Allan Wilkinson

For the first time in just a little under twelve months of Town Hall Live’s impressive run of concerts, two returning musicians took to the stage tonight for another outstanding evening of music.  Jeremy Lindsay was the first guest at the Kirton in Lindsey venue earlier in the year when he appeared with his band JT and The Clouds and more recently the delightful Po’ Girl made an appearance with the incomparable Allison Russell. Joining forces for the JT Nero tour, JT and Alli appeared together tonight for a relaxed and intimate performance.  Taking songs from the Mountains/Forests album as a basis for the set, the trio, which also included Texan guitarist Joe Faulhaber, opened with the surrealistic title song from the record, reminding us that there are in fact mountains, forests and even electric seahorses, going on to perform a selection of other familiar songs including “Roll Tide”, “North Star” and “Double Helix” (Rainbow), each garnering an enthusiastic reception.  The album, which is essentially a solo record by Jeremy’s alter ego JT Nero, features not only members of The Clouds but also members of Po’ Girl with particular emphasis on the soulful voice of Allison Russell.  It was entirely fitting then that we were able to hear these songs performed live for the first time by these two distinctive voices.  With a handful of other songs from the current record, “Gallup NM”, “Grey Ghost” and the intriguing “Mi Salvador What’s Happening”, JT and Alli also introduced a selection of newer songs from what will eventually become the couple’s proper debut duo album, the forthcoming Birds of Chicago with “Oh Calcutta” featuring Alli on clarinet, the waltz time “Galaxy Ballroom” and the funky “Trampoline”.  Joining Jeremy and Allison, guitarist Joe Faulhaber alternated between acoustic and electric guitars, providing some tasty accompaniment, adding some almost David Rawlings-type guitar runs to each of the songs, providing the cherry on top.  The atmosphere in the Town hall tonight was slightly polarised with half the audience wanting to party and half the audience wanting a bit of peace and quiet, with a bit of shushing followed by a bit of shushing the shushers.  In hindsight, maybe a suitable compromise would have been to let the kids run around but let them do it in stocking feet?  Having said that, with songs like “Sugar Dumpling” and “Funeral”, the party atmosphere was unavoidable really and the band seemed pretty cool with it all.  Finishing with an encore of “Downpresser Man”, the old Peter Tosh song, JT and Allison brought the evening to a soulful climax.