Monday, 7 October 2013

Shauna Mackin, Chris Young and Lauren Housley @ Dulcimer, 19.09.13.

Lauren Housley stands on one side of the stage while her accompanying guitarist sits across to her right. They haven’t had a fight – someone will in a few minutes – but perhaps the distance is to allow them both to demonstrate their abilities without each other’s shadow. Lauren shows off the rich, deep fullness of her voice, flitting through her catalogue that varies from the aggressive up-tempo type of number through to the more subtle, hushed variety. Thomas Dibb, on guitar, plucks though the blues-tinged, lively numbers, skipping across to a reggae-tinged element that even caught Lauren by surprise.

As the last number begins – one of Housley’s “favourites” – so does the disruption. Barely a verse is completed before a clearly drunken fellow who has little interest in the performers, is ‘advised’ to leave the premises. “But I wanted you to hear this,” murmurs Lauren as everyone’s attention is drawn away from the stage. With the idiot ejected, heads turn back to the stage for some deserved applause.

Chris Young announces himself as a “stage virgin” – this being his debut appearance. Not backward in coming forward, he commences to direct the soundman through the different requirements of his set, from being aware of the pedal that “really blasts out at the top end” to “lowering everything in the monitors”.

The set-list composition shows that he’s spent a great deal of time preparing for the show. Mixing a set of covers with his own material, the wide variety of conjured sounds mean this isn’t a just man and a guitar. For someone who doesn’t like much of Radiohead’s output (eg. me), his cover version of one of theirs is sufficiently reworked to make non-believers accept them. He can layer the sounds with his foot pedal to create rich patterns that roll gently around the room. One of his own songs is even dedicated to the previously ejected person. “This one is called ‘Substance Abuse’.”

The line-up, put together by Longevity Records, is completed with Shauna Mackin and three seated musicians. Pleased with the amount of airplay that her song, ‘Go Your Way’, has been achieving on the BBC Radio Introducing show, she is full of confidence and enthusiasm, even to the point of congratulating Lauren on how she dealt with the earlier disturbance. She keeps to what she knows, with one song about her granny – still going strong at 94 years of age. The trio supporting her, Jonny Lewis (guitar), James Hattersley (guitar) and Alex Hill (percussion), provide the lush, languid sounds allowing Mackin’s voice to glide.

Words & photos: Ged Camera.

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