As I mentioned earlier, I took the short trip into London last night to see the very marvelous Andy McKee. I’ve seen him once before, and at the same venue actually….the incredible Union Chapel in Islington (it’s one of my all time favourites).
I wasn’t sure if I should expect more of the same as last time, but I really was hoping for something a bit different. And of course, as usual, Andy delivered.
First up as his warm-up was Jon Gomm. I’d not heard of him before we bought the tickets, but a quick Googling took us to this incredible video. I mean, seriously, HOW?! It’s just ridiculously amazing. The man makes one guitar sound like an entire band! And what’s more, as we found out last night, he’s from Blackpool and dead lovely. After he regaled us with stories of his first gigs in Northern Working Mens’ Clubs and Glaswegian pensioners who wanted to hear something they knew, he treated us to one of the most remarkable covers I’ve ever heard…..his ’emergency disco number’ in fact, his version of Chaka Khan’s Ain’t Nobody had me bouncing in my seat with joy! Love!
When Jon introduced the next act, it was with such respect and awe that I couldn’t wait to see what was coming next! In fact, Preston Reed has been a massive influencer and hero of both Jon’s and Andy’s, and so I was super keen to hear him play. His sound is much more bluesy and blue grassy, but plenty funky too. I loved the sounds he created, not to mention his beautifully glossy silver curls! He makes playing look so incredibly effortless, despite the complex nature of what he’s doing. And when he finished up by promising us he’d be back at the end to play with Andy and Jon, I was more excited still!
Next up, Andy McKee himself took centre stage. I was really pleased to hear some things he’d not played when we saw him before, but more pleased still that he performed his amazing Hunters Moon and Drifting (two of my favourites and his most famous ‘percussive guitar’ songs). He’s such a charming performer, and it’s impossible not to warm to him instantly. Apart from that though, he is so amazingly skilled, and really does something different. I was only disappointed that he didn’t play his version of Tears For Fears’ Everybody Wants to Rule The World….. next time perhaps!
There was one last treat though, as promised, as Preston and Jon joined Andy on stage to play all together. They began by playing an adapted version of one of Jon’s songs, and we could see right away how well they work together and how much they enjoy it too. One of Andy’s songs was next, and I think this was the one that showed each musician off best….both Preston and Jon took a little ‘solo’ in it, and Andy just looked so thrilled to have them both there on stage with him. My favourites though were Preston’s songs that they played last, but still together. We were warned it was about to get a little more funky, and it certainly did with the whole audience clapping along and grinning just as much as the three men on stage. It was a real joy to see three solo artists join together so beautifully, and part of the charm of their performance together was how much they clearly just adore playing together.
It all made me want to pick up a guitar, and as I thought just that on the way home, I realised that what is not usually my favourite instrument (I’m a piano and violin girl usually) had just been used to such a level as I’d hardly realised they were all ‘just’ playing guitar. If you’re at all a guitar fan, or you just enjoy listening to something different, I couldn’t recommend seeing all three of these musical geniuses enough.