Live Review | Roots Music Club, Doncaster | Review by Allan Wilkinson
There’s nothing quite so rewarding to a music club’s organising committee, than for them to be searching the back rooms for more chairs, even as early as 7.30pm. It was already a good night even before a single word had been sung, a single chord had been struck. People mingled, glasses were filled, hands were shook, bodies were hugged, old friends were reunited, Jez Lowe was in town. It takes a familiar name to ensure a good turn-out like this, but it’s certainly not just the name that fills the seats; it’s the rich body of work that comes with that name, songs that resonate with ordinary people, whether they’re mini political protests, songs about the plight of the mining industry and the North East shipyards, tender love ballads or even one about a dog called Aloysius. The return to the Roots Music Club of Jez Lowe, playing his last solo gig before embarking on a five-week Canadian tour, saw him in fine voice and in fine fettle, alternating between guitar, bouzouki and mandolin, whilst delivering a broad selection from his prolific back catalogue. There appeared to be more comic songs included in tonight’s set than usual, certainly the one about the dog Aloysius, but also the George Formby-esque “The Wrong Bus” and most notably, the brilliantly complex story of a Roman Soldier arriving in modern day Newcastle, coming to terms with the modern age; a sort of Roman Catweasel, complete with hilarious Pidgin Latin phrases. One suspects Jez had a ball writing this wonderful ditty. “The Austerity Alphabet” updates such themed songs as the “Sailor’s Alphabet” and the “Woodcutter’s Alphabet” with a comment on the mess we find ourselves in at the moment; A is for Austerity, B is for Bankers and the horrible reality unfolds before our ears in alphabetical order, a beautifully well-constructed song if it wasn’t so worryingly true. It was hot tonight at the Ukrainian Centre on the outskirts of Doncaster town centre, a strong community spirit providing much of the heat with choruses led by an accommodating performer, who delivered requests throughout the remainder of the show, including one or two favourites which have survived for many years, the enduring “Old Bones”, the delightfully melodious “London Danny” and as a fine finisher, “These Coal Town Days”.