Debsamita Bhattacharya. St George’s, Bristol.

An artist I’ve never heard of in a beautiful venue that has amazing sound.

I was intrigued by the prospect of seeing Indian classical music, and when the tickets for this were in the Bristol flash sale, making it just £11.25 to go I thought well why not? St George’s is a wonderful venue, with incredible sound and that always makes you feel welcome.

I had already planned the 40th gig by the time I bought this ticket, so knew it would be an extra but there is no way of stopping me now! I’ve caught some sort of musical disease that won’t let me stop. And I am very glad of it. Before 40 gigs I would never have even thought about going to see something like this concert and that would have been a real shame.

Debasmita plays the sarod, an instrument I’ve never heard of in my life, let alone seen and was accompanied by Gurdain Rayatt on the tabla. The pair of them are amazing. I’ve never seen such speed and dexterity in playing. The sounds were astonishing. They played for over 90 minutes without a break and it flew past, feeling about a third of that. There was one fantastic section where they call and responded to each other on their respective instruments and that was just wow. The sounds were so lush and rich. The sarid is an incredibly complex instrument and I can see why it takes a lifetime to master it. Such beautiful sounds emanate from it.

This was my first, and hopefully not last, encounter with Indian music and I absolutely loved it.

Thank you Asian Arts Agency and St George’s for making this show accessible and affordable. You have opened my ears to yet more new music.

The spirit of 40 gigs lives on!


Farewell 40 gigs?

I know I’ve reviewed the final gig, and indeed all the gigs, but I wanted to wrap them all up with a farewell entry.

This whole thing started on February 1st, before I turned 40, and ended on October 19th months after I did. In those nine months I have seen opera, folk, blues, rock, classical, jazz, indie, percussion and some out there things that I’m not sure how to classify! I have traveled to Plymouth, Oxford, London, Manchester, Sheffield and Liverpool. There have been many hours on Megabus, National Express and occasionally a train or two. I have visited venues for the first time, some multiple times, seen crowds of less than 10 and more than 20,000. I’ve even been to a gig in a forest. Having waited years to see Elbow live, I got to see them 3 times and even got hugged by Guy Garvey. I met my heroine, Mary Ann Hobbs and saw the extraordinary Colin Stetson.

I have seen gigs I loved, that will stay with me forever. I have been turned on to new music I would never have found otherwise. I have surprised myself in how left field a lot of my taste has become. I feel at home in the Freak Zone on 6 Music now. As well as in folk clubs, where some of the nicest people and most talented musicians seem to reside. I have had my heart, ears and eyes opened to genres of music I’d not really touched before. I have had the most incredible experience and I wouldn’t change a single thing.

More than anything I have felt the love and kindness of so the so many people who have helped make it all possible. To every single one of you who bought me a ticket to a gig, gave me money for my birthday, donated via the gofundme page or added me to a guest list, I owe you all a huge debt of gratitude. Most of the 40 gigs have been paid for by others in one way or another. I simply couldn’t have done it without you.

In a year when politics has sought to divide us, that strangers as well as friends were prepared to put their hands in their pockets to help me has shown that the majority of folk are kind and good. You just have to let them be and give them a reason to do so. The kindnesses I have been shown has moved me to tears at times, and I am welling up thinking about you all now. Thank you so much.

This has been the most emotional and brilliant journey. I have loved it all, even the one gig I didn’t really like and the one or two I just thought were good. To have had 37 great ones was such joy. As for the highlights, well almost too many to mention. Sharing Michael Kiwanuka’s 30th birthday with him was pretty amazing, and that first Elbow gig was everything, Low Roar was transformative (I felt like I was flying), Jesca Hoop was a delightful surprise, Evelyn Glennie was astonishing, discovering I like jazz was an eye opener, Daniel Lanois I’m not sure what happened but I liked it, Penquin Cafe was pure joy, Colin Stetson redesigned what I thought music could be, seeing Ryan Adams again, my beloved Starsailor were as brilliant as ever and discovering that I really, really like folk music (India Electric Co, Hannah James, False Lights et al) and so much more besides.

It was suggested that I do a 40 gigs awards at the end, which I do think is a brilliant idea, but I need a little more time to process and think about who to aware what to. So watch this space.

This project has been the most life affirming, positive experience of my life. I got to share it with old friends, cement new ones and take my son to Starsailor’s sound check so that I got to share it with him too. It has been so much fun and has helped me rediscover myself and the things I love. I have got to be creative, both in writing this blog and in photographing bands.

Thank you to Jacqui, Monty, Janine, Dawn & Russ, Jose, Alan, my son, Anne-Marie, Amy, Kate, Ant, Claire, my work collegues, Claire & Dacre, Jen, Mark, Mark, Morven, Kev, Tom, Matt, Matt, Gemma, Linda, Jo, Sarah, Mary Ann Hobbs, Chris, Emma, Nick, Mandie, Lou, every band or artist I saw, you have all made my 40th year one I shall never forget. I am grateful for your support and thankful to have shared parts of this with you.

Oh and as for the future. Well, I’m going to an Indian classical music gig tonight. So the 40 gigs may have come to its end, but my gig going days haven’t. I’ll continue to review here.



Starsailor. The Academy, Liverpool.

My beloved band, venue I’ve not been to in a City I have.

Starsailor just are my band. This was the 46th time I’d seen them live. The first time I saw them was V2002 and I’ve seen them play in 3 countries, a dozen Cities and in venues ranging in capacity from 300 to thousands strong at festivals. Their music got into my heart and my head in all those years ago and has never let go. It’s under my skin and understands and explains me in a way nothing else can. On record they are good, but live they are exceptional. They always give you their best live. Its magic, its alchemy, it just is the greatest experience to see them play live. I love them as much now, no more, than when I first started to see them play. One of the first times I saw them live was in Liverpool, at the Barfly, a teeny venue that was as hot and sweaty as gigs come. I’d also seen them in Liverpool headline a gig where Amy Winehouse was lower down the bill and I fell asleep during her set.

Due to the history I have with Starsailor and as my most beloved band I felt ending 40 gigs with them was appropriate. It also seemed right to end in Liverpool, a City steeped in musical history and that virtually sings from its pores.

The 40th gig. 40 of 40. 40 for being 40. I was emotional going into this gig. It was to be the end of the most amazing adventure. I was sharing it with my fellow musketeers, Nick & Mandie (who have seen Starailor slightly more than I have. Each) and our D’artanian, Lou.I have laughed more in the past few days with them than I have in months. Old friends, united in love of music, with decades long friendships, sharing hotel rooms and giggling like kids. It has been wonderful.Glorious. Three of us had been in Sheffield the night before, and we journeyed across the Pennines together and when we arrived in Liverpool, Lou was waiting to join us. The four of us got ready in the hotel, me in my special 40th gig dress, and enjoyed the camaraderie that can only come of being as close as family.

I can’t say I was impressed with the venue. A big space, with no original features (or, well, any features at all), 2 steep flights of steps just to get in and staff who did a very good job of making me feel less than welcome. My first impressions were of an intimidating space. I was also nervous, this was the first time I was there as an official photographer to the group and had permission to shoot from the crowd after my 3 songs in the press pit. I started to pace the pit as the tension rose within me.

After what seemed an eternity Up Down Go Machine came on. I had enjoyed them in Bristol, so was looking forward to hearing them again. They were joined by a keyboard player at this gig, which added to and rounded out the sound, giving them a fullness that I liked. I’d be very happy to see (and photograph) them again if they play a headline show near me. As I explained to them afterwards, I can only photograph well when I like the music.

Second support was Alex Francis, as it had been in Sheffield. Like Paves, they are a joy to photograph with lots of action and interplay between the band, and some charismatic individuals who are lit beautifully. I’ve not yet ploughed through the shots of them from either night (I had 2400 images to work through!) but it looks good from both nights.

The crowd had filled up by the time Starsailor came on, and Liverpool crowds are usually well up for a good time, and tonight was no exception. Although I can proudly say that the tracks from the new album went down best in Bristol (yes, go South West) and it has been brave of the lads to include so many from All This Life on this tour. It is their most complete album, and as die-hard fan I adored being able to hear so many of the new tracks played live. My only regret is ‘missing’ Listen To Your Heart while I’m photographing so that I have been unable to dance to it. Otherwise it has been pure pleasure. They showcase so many styles on All This Life, some tracks are very pop, others get their groove on and funk out, one even sounds a little 90’s new jack swing for a moment. The overarching themes of relationship breakdown, loss and coming to terms with a new life are both heartbreaking and life affirming. This is the album I needed them to have made 7 years ago when my marriage broke down. It is a poignant, moving album that also makes me sing along loudly and dance my arse off. Live its been that to the power of 10.

In the pit, the rumble of the bass thumped me right in the chest and I knew at that moment that it would be a special gig. Starsailor are the loudest band live, they always turn everything up to 11. Tie Up My Hands is a prime example, on record its a fairly unremarkable sounding song, but live it is a heavy and pleading and emotionally tense song. It remains a fan favourite live for that reason.

As I had permission to continue shooting from the crowd I spent a few songs wandering around the venue, finding a way to take different shots, using my zoom lens and feeling the creativity of the music through the camera. My relationship with photography started at Starsailor gigs, and they have been gracious enough to let me nurture that by photographing them over the years. It is a symbiotic relationship, my way of reacting and relating to the creativity I see and hear on stage. I cannot sing and until very recently couldn’t play either (and even now, I have a very basic grasp of the bass), but I can photograph. I remain grateful to any band who lets me take photographs and humbled when anyone likes the results.

I wound up back where I started, next to my friends at the end of the front row and from there I got some smashing pictures of James and Stel and I was intermittently putting the camera down and picking it up again as the lighting changed. Until we got to Sunday Best and I put the camera down. My desire to be a fan overrode my desire to be a photographer at that point. This track wasn’t on the set list at the start of the tour, but has been added as fans clamoured to hear it. Me included. Its one of the standout tracks on the album and very emotional. I let go and danced, sang and emoted my little heart out for the rest of the gig. I had to. Who knows when I’ll get the chance to see/feel/hear all this again? I took the moments while I could. It is those moments, these gigs, these emotions, that I live for. I’m a medical secretary, a single Mum, my health isn’t the best. My life is pretty ordinary and boring mostly. So when I can grab the opportunity to feel so vibrant and alive and shining, it is everything. For those moments my life is extraordinary and brilliant. And I get to share it with special people, ones who have been my friends and companions through so much. This gig I got to share it with the most special people, the band. Their music makes my heart soar. The relationship I’ve had with Starsailor’s music has been one of the most formative and special of my life. For all the amazing adventures, it has been the music and always the music, that has bound me to these four good souls.

I had been fighting emotions all night and finally let them go during the encore, which was again the brilliant pairing of FIA and Good Souls. Tears just fell and kept pouring down my face. I was lost, gone and all the emotions I’d been fighting to contain came out in one huge swell. Both are very special songs, different and contrasting in tone and mood but they ended the show so perfectly. They ended 40 gigs so perfectly. It was imense.

I did get to thank you the boys afterwards, and shared a very special moment with Kelly (Barry’s wife) that makes me cry every time I think about it.

Thank you Ben, Barry, Stel, James, Steve, Chris, Kelly, Kate, Nick, Mandie, Lou and everyone else involved with Starsailor. You have helped me to complete what has been the most positive experience of my life. 40 gigs was inspired partly by seeing you play live last year, and by your music helping to keep me alive. I wouldn’t be here without Good Souls like you.

These next words make me sad, proud and overwhelmed all at once;

40 down. 0 to go.











Starsailor. The Leadmill, Sheffield.

My favourite band (again). Famous Yorkshire venue I’ve never been to before.

The 44th time I have seen Starsailor live, and no I am not bored of hearing the same songs over and over, every gig is different. Each one contains memories of the people it was shared with, the time of my life it marked or the stories connected to it. I fell a little bit in love with Sheffield when I visited it for the first time last year and the Leadmill is one of its most famous venues. So to get my favourite band in one of my favourite places with some of my favourite people was fabulous.

Travelling up, me, Mandie and Nick, all on separate coaches, were exchanging messages as we all neared Sheffield. We’ve been friends, through the band, for 15 years and have seen each other through so much.

Once we’d  met up and scoped out the hotel we got ourselves to the venue. I liked The Leadmill very much. Lovely room, relaxed security and decent lighting. I was just about in time to catch the end of Paves set and managed to grab some good shots of them. Having seen them support Starsailor last year I knew they would be amazing to photograph and play some decent tunes.

The second support tonight was Alex Francis, who was also very good. Lovely harmonies and backing from his band helped with that. Am also hopeful of decent pictures, will have to wait until I get home to process.

Then the boys. The lighting was much kinder tonight, same trio of songs to photograph, fingers crossed for good shots. After my three songs were up I found my way through the crowd to a front row spot between Mandie and Nick. Just like old times. The rest of the crowd were rowdy. There had clearly been a lot of booze consumed! It was a shame as they somewhat spoiled the atmosphere and it could have been so much better without that element.

It’s been such a treat to hear so many songs from the new album on this tour. It’s the most complete album Starsailor have made. It’s also the funkiest. They played Sunday Best tonight and it sounded great. It’s one of my favourite tracks on the album and I am so pleased they included it. Keep it in, please lads.

Tonight wasn’t a classic, but Starsailor live are always worth showing up for. On record they are good, but live they are something special.

Thank you Starsailor, and my Starsailor family.

39 down. 1 to go.



Starsailor. Bierkeller Bristol.

My band, 43rd time seeing them live in Bristol’s strangest venue that I’ve only been to once, also to see Starsailor.

Band who I have loved for a very long time and have seen live an awful lot. They are always excellent and their music means too much, to see them again is always a treat. The Bierkeller is a very strange venue indeed. Quirky doesn’t really cut it. The only other time I’ve been there was to see Starsailor in 2015 when I was pretty poorly.

Gig 38 contained a lot of firsts. Starting with the first time I’ve been to Starsailor’s sound check. That in itself was pretty special, but I took my son (who was born to Keep Us Together by Starsailor) and that made it even more so. I was with Nick, who I have known through the band since forever and has become family. He drums and for the first time he got to sound check a track with the band. To be sat, with my boy, watching my other boy playing with the band we love so much was just everything. I could have burst with pride. Then Ben gave my son a quick drum lesson! Those boys are good to me.

After a quick trip home to eat and deposit the boy with the babysitter (his Dad, my ex husband) me and Nick were back in the venue nice and early to catch the support bands. Up Down Go Machine were on first, and they were pretty decent. Apparently they had also supported back in 2015 but I cannot remember this at all! They were lovely to photograph and I’m hopeful of some good shots. I’m looking to seeing them again later on this tour.

Next were Paradisia who wouldn’t have been out of place at some of the folk gigs I’ve been to. A harpist, keyboard player and singer. I liked them but felt they should have been on first. The rest of the crowd chatted through a fair bit of their set, which was a real shame. Their cover of Dancing in the Dark was ace.

Then. My boys. They had let me have a photo pass again tonight and as it’s the smallest photo pit in the world (I was practically sitting on the stage) it made for challenging conditions to work in. They opened with Listen To Your Heart, which was brilliant yet disappointing as I’ve not heard it live and when I’m photographing I’m only half listening as I’m concentrating on getting a decent shot. But it did set the tone for the night, and works so well as an opening track they should definitely keep it.

The other 2 songs I got to photograph were Alcoholic and Poor Misguided Fool. I am hopeful of some decent images, keep your fingers crossed. After this I took myself to the side of the stage and watched the gig from there, with the road crew. This is a such a privileged position to be in and I am so grateful the band, who tolerate this super fan dancing like a weirdo on the side of the stage. Being able to watch the interplay between them and the crowd is such joy. It took a few tracks for the crowd to warm up, but when they did, they really did. Literally. It was a proper sweat box of a gig. Having the space to just really cut loose and dance and sing my heart out was such so wonderful. It was a heavy, rocky set to get people up and moving and it worked. The old body was moving in ways I am sure to regret as soon as I wake up. Starsailor are about the only band that can get me going like that, the music just cuts deep “if you get it, you get it” as Amy put it at the end of the gig. About halfway through it almost became too much, too overwhelming, with joy and happiness and life affirming emotions running all over the place inside me. 2 years ago I’d been in this same venue, with this same band, swigging on liquid morphine to numb the appalling pain I was in. Weeks later I had major surgery, developed sepsis and could have died. So every time I see Starsailor play it is a reminder that I am still here. I made it. And I am alive. So alive. Their music makes me feel that. Alive and  vital and human and connected and well its just everything.

By the time we got to the encore I was ready for the inevitable tears. They came during FIA, which I found really emotional. It isn’t a good gig unless I’ve had a little cry though, right?! It is cathartic. Music hits parts of my brain that nothing else does. Live music even more so. Starsailor live hits places few others do. I cannot explain, nor do I want to. They are just my band and they just hit me somewhere I can’t really describe. Good Souls has always meant so very much, the reasons now enhanced by surviving, and when James went into Praise You at the end of it tonight. Oh Boy. Those overwhelming and overpowering emotions came out again.

I wish I could explain better what this band means to me, I wish you could all feel what I feel to the depths I do. It is so magical and amazing and such a gift to be able to experience it the way I do.

Thank you Ben, Barry, Stel and James. You have soundtracked so much of my life and changed my life in ways I can never begin to thank you for. You truly are good souls.

38 down. 2 to go.





Jordan Rakei. Thekla, Bristol.

Artist I’ve heard played on 6 Music a few times, venue on a boat that was the location for the gig number 1 back in February.

Thekla was long overdue another visit, its one of Bristol’s quirkiest venues. Nightclub come gig venue on a boat in the harbour with possibly the stickiest floor and sweatiest walls of any venue in the City. If Jordan Rakei is good enough to be on 6 Music’s playlist and radar then he’s good enough to take a punt on seeing live.

Gig 37 was my last chance to discover new music, to see an artist I’d not seen live before. I was late in so missed most of the support act and didn’t manage to catch their name so they will remain reviewless.

It was a sell out crowd and you can feel that on Thekla, it’s so small you can’t help knowing when it is full. It was a younger crowd so I automatically felt slightly out-of-place. All around me was a sea of 90’s fashion, a weird throwback for me as I remember satin slip dresses with converse trainers from my own youth!

Jordan and his 5 piece band made their way on to a rapturous reception. It took me most of the set to warm up and feel comfortable, which is a shame because there was much to enjoy in the music. Funky bass lines, irresistable percussion, 2 guitarists and keys backing a soulful voice should have made for a great gig. It seemed to for the crowd around me, who were all dancing and enjoying themselves. There were moments I really loved, Nerve, Wallflower and the final track of Sorceress stood out, but it just didn’t gel and hang together as a complete gig experience for me. I can’t put my finger on why either. It was a good gig, I guess I’ve just become accustomed to great! To be a great gig there has to be a confluence of so many factors and something tonight was just missing for me. That is no bearing on the talent of Jordan and his band, it is a reflection of what it felt like for me is all.

I will still take much from tonight’s gig. It was ace to see a more gender balanced crowd and a more diverse mix of people in the crowd as well. That’s a reflection of the band and the mix of funk, soul, jazz and electronic music they played. The obvious delight and joy in the faces around me was also really pleasing.

Sometimes you have incredible gig experiences and sometimes you have a nice time. All are valid. All are part of 40 gigs and what has made it such a special project.

37 down. 3 to go.




Grace Petrie/Hannah James. The Folk House, Bristol.

I had heard of Grace, but not Hannah. Fab venue I visited for the first time recently, I was very pleased to be returning.

I’d seen Grace at the Slapstick Festival earlier this year and have wanted to see her again ever since. Although she has played Bristol quite a lot, none of them have been dates I could make. Until tonight. I was excited to be seeing her play again, and to see Hannah for the first time as their styles are quite different and I was intrigued to hear the mix.

The Folk House is ruddy lovely. Just go to see a gig there, any gig. Or pop in for coffee and a cake. They are friendly and welcoming and sell gluten free millionaires shortbread for heaven’s sake. I will most definitely be returning.

As this was a double bill gig, there was no support act and Grace and Hannah played together and solo, taking it in turns to decry “how do I follow that” to each other. When they sang together their voices blended into the most glorious harmonies. When they sang solo there was nothing disappointing at all, they both have amazing voices to communicate with. The subjects they share are more similar than you would initially think, one more traditional in style & presentation, perhaps, but themes of equality and justice were in both. It worked so much better than if they had played separate sets. Watching them watch each other play was almost as joyous as watching them play together.

Tonight had some firsts for 40 gigs. Chiefly clog dancing, accordion playing and yodeling.  All breathtaking from Hannah, whose skill at all three was just a wonder to behold. Multi talented and a really lovely person to boot. A year ago I would have dismissed this as silly nonsense and I would have been wrong to do so. The talent it takes to be good at any one of those things is huge, to be able to do all three. Well, I take my hat off to you, Hannah. A door called folk music has been opened to me and I am well and truly not in Kansas anymore! I’m not sure I’m ready for a waistcoat yet, but then I am not a singer/songwriter so I think I’ll be ok 🙂

Grace is more of a troubadour, from the fine tradition of protest singers, a sort of punk poet, an impassioned singer with heart. Which is as much a part of the folk tradition as songs about crows, murders and the sea. Her songs had a safe audience in Bristol, a place with a Labour council, represented entirely by Labour MP’s, where 70% of the population voted for Remain, and a city open to music in its many forms and for trying new things. I may not agree with all of Grace’s politics, but I share the sentiment in which her songs are written. They are gifted, shared and are sung with love. That has a special beauty of its own.

What I also really loved about tonight was that it was two women headlining together. Being funny and political and brilliant and talented. I have tried to seek out female musicians for 40 gigs, solidarity to the sisterhood. Women in music face barriers much as they do elsewhere. It was refreshing to be in an audience tonight that was at least 50% female.

What is really lovely about folk clubs, folk music and folk musicians, is that they are about community. Stories being told and shared and embellished and altered, becoming part of the rich tapestry of life. I have felt so welcomed by folksters, it has been wonderful.

Thank you Hannah, thank you Grace, thank you Folk House for another gig memory I will treasure.

36 down, 4 to go.


False Lights. The Exchange, Bristol.

Folk rock band I have wanted to see again, since hearing them at 6 Music Festival last year. Fantastic little venue I discovered this year and have fallen in love with.

False Lights were my gateway drug into folk music. It was seeing them at 6 Music Festival last year that opened the door to a style of music I’d dismissed and I’ve been wanting to see them again ever since. When I was given the opportunity to see them tonight I jumped at it. The Exchange has become one of my favourite venues in Bristol. It’s really friendly, eclectic (they do punk rock yoga), and I’ve not seen a bad gig there. Tonight’s gig was one I’d been really looking forward to.

Support came from Kitty Macfarlane, which I had to find out afterwards as she forgot to introduce herself! She has a beautiful voice and sings traditional folk really well with it. There were songs about beach combing, sirens of the Somerset sea, ones based on poetry, old songs and new songs. She plays the Folk House in December and I’ll be going.

Then False Lights. All 6 of them. I was expecting 2. Excellent, this will be wonderfully noisy I thought. And it was. It was folk. Turned up to 11.

Bass, drums, 2 lead guitars, a melodium and a violinist. Oh and a couple of tracks on keys. Some sort of sound effects board, bells and harmony singing. If they had a kitchen sink to throw at the stage, I’m sure they would have used it. It was folk meets rock to get its groove on. It was fucking awesome.

As this was an album launch gig, they played mostly new material, with a couple of tracks off the excellent Salvor. Frustratingly this new album isn’t yet out, nor will it be for a few months, so I cannot share with you the amazing music they played from it tonight. You will just have to trust me that it is ace and buy it when it comes out.

Whatever you think you know about folk music, just chuck it out the window and listen to False Lights. If you like folk, this is heavy, rocky folk. If you don’t ignore the label and listen. It’s just indie rock guitar music with added violin for the doubters ok? They rework old songs, maintaining the tradition whilst adding layers to make fresh new sounds and have them literally sing again. When I saw them last year I got the connection between folk and rock, via them and Richard Hawley. Tonight I felt the link between folk and indie, 60’s soul and hard rock. Sometimes in the same song. These guys are special. The opening drum part of one track was pure 60’s girl group, Be My Baby came to mind! Sam plays a mean guitar, mean. And to see him rock out and be so into his playing was just pure joy. The best moments were watching the band let rip and the way they bounced off each other. It was infectious and I couldn’t help but smile and dance. Getting your groove on isn’t something you would usually associate with a folk gig (unless you can do a quadrille…….) but this was rock and I can’t stand still when drums and bass involved. I was off, dancing rapidly replaced foot tapping. I had no chance of standing still really. The old bones are already creaking and I know I’ll be stiff as a board tomorrow morning but I honestly can’t help it. Music moves me; emotionally and physically.

I can express to you how much I loved this gig and how happy it made me simply. At the end of it, when I was talking to Jim and Sam I forgot words and how to put a sentence together, the music had taken me to a place where words didn’t matter anymore. To render me speechless and inarticulate is pretty difficult, so it shows you how utterly fabulous this gig was that I struggled to make coherent sense at the end of it!

Thank you Ant, Kitty, Sam, Jim and the rest of the band. I had a ball tonight. Seeing music live makes me feel more alive than anything. More vital. More connected. Ultimately more human. Tonight you made me feel brave and that is such a wonderful gift.

35 down, 5 to go.




An evening with Fenne Lily, Paul Thomas Saunders, Sivu & Siv Jakobsen. The Lantern, Bristol.

4 artists I’d not heard of in the most visited venue of 40 gigs.

My friends Jacqui and Monty (who took me to C Duncan and Vok) had seen Paul before and liked him and bought me a ticket for this gig. I’ve already gone on about how much I love The Lantern. It is just about the perfect venue, spacious yet intimate, comfortable, with decent sound and a great mix of artists.

Sivu was the first of the four acts on, they are touring together and all play an equal length set. I’ve seen this a few times now as part of 40 gigs and I like it. It takes the risk element out of gigs, each artist is on for 30-40 minutes so you have time to discover stuff but also it’s not too long if you don’t like them! Fortunately I liked Sivu. He was a charming young man with a lovely voice and as an opener did a grand job. Despite what he claimed, his between song chat was natural and warm. Just like his songs.

Siv Jakobsen was next on, and her voice found an emotional home in my soul. My current mood of maudlin loneliness matched her searing, honest songs. Her voice has a delicate beauty that belies its power and emotional impact. Fragile yet strong. She made me cry with Not Alone and Blanket. I really liked her.

Paul Thomas Saunders was next on, the artist my friends had seen before and the reason they’d bought the tickets. He seemed very young and shy and adorable. Then he sang. Oh. I love the contrast. The softly spoken boy giving vent to a powerful man’s voice that lifted and broke me in equal measure. The track I liked best doesn’t appear to be on Spotify (dammit) and I’ve forgotten its title, but it was heartbreaking. I was in tears for the second time.

Last but by no means least Fenne Lily, a local artist who had most of her family in the crowd. She had invited Big Jeff to the gig via twitter and that’s why he was there. Sat with me and Monty and Jacqui. She possesses another beguiling and lovely voice, singing sad songs.

It is always a pleasure to see Jeff at a gig. We have become friends through 40 gigs, and discovered we are neighbours too! He said he wanted tonight to go to a gig that was “comfort food” and he was so right. Tonight’s gig was very much that. Warming, nourishing and comforting. More so as it was shared with friends.

Thank you all.

34 down. 6 to go.