Friday, March 23, 2012
Liz Green / Dan Whitehouse @ The Glee Club, Thursday 22nd March 2012
Something of a resident artist at The Glee Club now Dan Whitehouse has been playing here for many years, during which time he’s released no less than three EPs and an album of finely crafted, emotionally raw and...I’m guessing...deeply personal songs. Much of his material muses on the trinity of love, life and loss, three themes that we can all relate to, all delivered in Dan’s trademark ‘giving it all he’s got’ style.
Once again tonight’s set showcased an artist who really does deserve to be better known and more appreciated. Midway through the whole thing one particularly enthusiastic young lady shouted out “You’ve touched me!” Dan resisted going into full on Carry On mode, but it’s a measure of the man that he continues to inspire such outpourings on a regular basis.
Inspired by crackly old field recordings, yellowing scores and quite possibly the odd trip in a time machine, Liz Green’s spent the last few years quietly honing her unique blend of folk, blues and...well, Liz Green-ness. Current album O, Devotion! has gone down the proverbial storm, thanks to the winning combination of Liz’s vintage vocals and distinctly unique lyrics. Wandering onstage this evening she explains the roots of her particular sound, asking us to blame Son House and Blind Willie McTell if we don’t like it and singing an a cappella cover of House’s Grinnin’ In Your Face and McTell’s Dying’ Crapshooters Blues just to ram home the point. It’s a spine tingling opening to the show. There’s something about those early blues tunes that’s just magical and despite being about as far removed from a grizzled ol’ crapshooter as it’s possible to get, Liz’s voice somehow does them justice. Having paid her dues to the dudes who inspired her the rest of the set mainly plucked tracks from the album, with tales of a man with the head of a bird (that’s bound to cramp your style down the local nightclubs eh?) and songs all about death, death and...er...more death. “These songs are all about death” (see, told you) Liz mused midway through the set, almost as if this fact had escaped her notice before. The show’s anything but maudlin though. There were laughs a aplenty in fact, some intentional – Liz donning a homemade bird head made from some old skirt that no longer fits her – and others just a happy accident – Liz’s keyboard magically playing itself when she sat down at it, forcing her to pretend to play in a OTT barroom pianist style. Bless. This self deprecating northern humour acts as an ideal counterpoint to the songs, many of them frail, delicate creatures accompanied by the merest wisps of sax, double bass and drums seemingly blown in on a gentle spring breeze. Against this subtle backdrop sings Liz, her voice echoing with the spirits of dead bluesmen/women and, at times, reaching the kind of ethereal heights only attained by Anthony (Hegarty). With the band’s trumpeter off around the world on his travels Bad Medicine would seemingly be a difficult track to pull off this evening but fear not though. Liz has perfected the ‘mouth trumpet’,“I’m fucking good at it too...not that I...er...want to blow my own mouth trumpet”, she promised, before conjuring up an impressively trumpet like sound all on her own.
A jaunty cover of the yiddish classic Bei Mir Bistu Shein (or Bei Mir Bist Du Schon if you prefer the German version) closed proceedings (you’d know it if you heard it) before Liz gathered up her homemade bird head and well swigged remains of her rum. A true one-off you get the sense that this strange journey’s only just begun. Perhaps the blues are over my friends, maybe it’s time we all started singing the greens?