After a long week of work and a day of running around, I want a night of calm acoustic goodness, intelligent lyrics and an infectious melody or two, now sure I could ransack my CD collection and come up with dozens of releases that fill the criteria but there’s nothing like live music to calm the savage beast.
Once upon a time, seems like aeons now, Worcester’s finest venue, The Marrs Bar, used to run acoustic sessions on a Sunday evening featuring local acts and the cream of out of town talents, it was one of my favourite nights, stripped back acts giving it their all in front of (generally) an audience of music fans. During these sessions I managed to catch the likes of Jackie Levan (R.I.P.), Christopher Rees, The Songwriters Circle, Tim Rose, machine Breakers, etc alongside the best of the locals, including regular performer and firm Rhythm & Booze favourite Wes Dance among numerous others.
Wes being both a fan and regular performer of these “shhhhh……Sundays” decided it was high time the format was resurrected to showcase, not only his own new material but also the wares of a few fellow acts that he’s performed with during 2013.
The first performer of the night was recent Wes Dance collaborator and local singer-singerwriter, Leanne Haworth, now I’m shamed to say it was the first time I’ve ever caught Leanne in a solo guise, but despite the announcement of a musical sabbatical, I hope not the last. Leanne littered her short set with covers (despite having a wealth of original material to draw from), openning with Where Is My Mind (Pixies), before running though Ghosts and leaving on a simply jaw dropping rendition of The Decemberists Revenge Of The Marineer, that perhaps even bettered that of the original.
Next to tread the boards were Birmingham based guitar/violin duo Che and Katharine, performing to a rapt Worcester for the first time, mesmerizing the assemble attentive audience with their gorgeous blend of vocal harmonies, strummed acoustic and lifting strings. The duo performed a number of beautiful originals with Katharine’s vocals harmonising wonderfully with the Dylan-esque delivery of Che, seducing everyone in the room with their folky laments and a gorgeous, sparse rendition of You’re So Beautiful originally by Swedish sensations First Aid Kit.
Now I must have seen singer-songwriter Wes Dance more than most local acts, I’ve watched him perform solo, as part of Robinson and with his own band but never have I seen a more comfortable performance than the one that he delivered to The Marrs Bar, opening with Tristesa, Wes instantly settled, delivering a masterclass of song craft and penmanship, as his infatuating lyrics tumbled over the sparse acoustic guitar. From there Wes commanded the attention running through firm favourites such as Thinking Way Too Much and A Fool Should Never Drink whilst also showcasing new works such as If Time Flows Like A River. Leanne was invited back up to sing on a couple of songs, including a brilliant Moonlight before Wes is joined by violinist John-Joe Murray who backs him brilliantly with a flurry on a glorious rendition of Silver Horse, a previously unrehearsed new number and a stirring Fiesta drawing a fabulous evenings entertainment to a close.
Sunday’s were made for sessions such as Wes and friends, I hope someone takes up the challenge to regularly deliver a night of stripped down musical goodness here in Worcester.
Rhythm & Booze Rating 9
Words: Will Munn
Video: King Dave
Photos: Ben Sanders