Evelyn Glennie. St George’s Hall

THE percussionist. The best acoustics in Bristol.

My lovely friend Janine bought me a ticket for gig 4, we both were excited/intrigued by seeing a percussion gig.

Evelyn Glennie is a unique and brilliant talent. I knew that before this gig, but I felt it last night in St George’s. I love St George’s, its beautiful and the acoustics are amazing. It’s a wonderfully intimate space, and as a former chapel, I always feel as if I am worshiping music in there.

The opening piece was wonderful, the interplay between Glennie and her accompanying  pianist, Phillip Smith almost jazz like. I guess when you’ve played together as long as they have you develop an innate understanding and the interplay between then was amazing. Then she played a hang, and the sounds produced were just beautiful. So warm & lovely & astonishing. Then a total change of mood to a piece that felt cinematic, like a Hitchcock soundtrack, going to all points on the musical compass and back again.I wasn’t sure where it was going to go next, and in that respect its the most punk rock thing I’ve ever heard. Loud, soft, intimate, rage filled, creepy, you name it Evelyn played it. Surprising us with unexpected techniques and dazzling us with her brilliance.

I don’t know how we arrived at the interval, it felt like Evelyn had only been on stage for 10 minutes, I’d been that captivated. After the break we were treated to a cacophonous and arresting piece that wouldn’t have been out of place on the Mad Max soundtrack. It was disturbing, almost apocalyptic and quite jarring given the beauty and tranquility of the venue. The final piece, with recorded orchestral support, a double concerto for piano and percussion. Wow. It went everywhere sonically and emotionally before landing us back where we had started, marveling at the extraordinary talent of Evelyn Glennie.

Janine and I had gone in intrigued and excited. We left still intrigued and excited. You can’t really ask for more than that.

4 down. 36 to go.


Mary Spender. The Lantern, Colston Hall.

Never heard her music. Fantastic venue.

Now the 40 gigs project is live I’ve started trawling venue websites to find gigs to go to. Which is how I found Mary Spender playing at the Lantern. The Lantern is the small venue inside Colston Hall (it used to be the bar before the shiny new extension was added) and I’ve seen wonderful gigs there; Saul Williams and Peggy Seeger among them. So for £8 I thought I’d take a punt on Mary. Mainly as her music seemed to defy classification as I found her described as jazz, soul, blues, funk and even rock. She sounds different I thought. Unique. I like that. And I want to support female artists where I can.

I broke my own rule about arriving in time for the support band so I missed Samuel Jack (sorry) and arrived about halfway through Harry & The Gondolas, which was a shame as I liked what I heard of them. I’ll add them to the list of bands to keep an eye out for on the listings.

Then, Mary.  Playing gorgeous, gorgeous guitar and singing like an angel. I felt her voice wouldn’t be out of place in a smoke filled jazz joint with hip cats jiving on tables (but then I had seen La La Land the night before). The guitar licks put me in mind of Rosetta Tharpe. This was blues alright. The standout tracks included a very left field cover version (which I won’t spoil as its only being played live at present) and Blues Duet, which I really liked and pretty much explains itself in the title.

I’d not realised that Mary isn’t signed and so putting on a gig at the Lantern was a bit of a punt for her too. It paid off, the room was pretty much full, and I for one would really like it if the venue did more nights like this with local, unsung talent. What was rather lovely, was that among the thanks, Mary thanked us for being there and supporting musicians simply for the love of music. I was really surprised that she hasn’t a deal somewhere and I hope that changes really soon. A talent this good should be encouraged and heard.

Three down. 37 to go.




Redhouse. The Railway Tavern

Never heard of them. A pub I used to drink at when I worked at Barnardos

My friends know Steve the drummer from this band so they suggested we went to hear them play. I used to occasionally drink in the Railway Tavern when I worked for Barnardos but I didn’t know they did live music. So I really wasn’t at all sure what to expect. Rock n roll is all I’d been told, and who doesn’t love a bit of that?

Steve is the lead singer, as well as the drummer and with Dubsey on guitar and Mark on bass they play rock n roll covers. Which gets folk dancing and having a good time. And they did, which was a real pleasure to see. I enjoyed their rock n roll version of Another Brick In The Wall a lot more than the original and there was a song towards the end with ‘language’ that they played brilliantly. They would be a great party band, and as this was a gig, in part, to celebrate my birthday, it worked. Even if Steve did forget my name in the dedication and so I became Enid for the night!

I know Russ from the Bristol Coeliac Group and had him pegged as a mild mannered, polite man. Discovering he had a past as a punk drummer was quite a pleasant revelation. As we talked about music and watched a drunken woman dance (and almost fall into the drum kit), I felt happy. This year long project/celebration is about the people who love playing music and the people who love hearing it. Thank you Redhouse for making me smile and enjoy the 2nd of my 40 gigs. Pubs in Fishponds are just as important in ensuring people get to enjoy live music as any arena.

2 down, 38 to go.


C Duncan. Thekla.

Never heard his music. One of my favourite Bristol venues.

A wonderful friend gifted me the ticket.I thought I was about to hear some gentle acoustic singer songwriter. What I heard was joyous 4 part harmony singing over shimmery music. It put a great big smile on my face and was a perfect way to start the 40 gigs adventure.

Big Jeff was there and as Bristol folk know, it’s always a good gig when Big Jeff is there.

The support, Stevie Parker was really good to, and as a Bristol native I shall endeavour to see her again as part of the 40 gigs. C Duncan and band are a handsome bunch. They all sing and play understated and beautiful music underneath those harmonies.

It was a great crowd, oldies and youngsters, respectful of the quiet numbers and joining in with the livelier ones.

I wish I’d dared to take my camera as the lighting was lush (particularly over the bassist). Maybe another day I’ll get to photograph C Duncan. For tonight it was enough to discover the music. The lovely, lovely music.

One down, 39 to go.