Monday, January 28, 2013

Flannagan? Forget Mickey, try Andy!

If you want a lesser known emotional rollercoaster autobiography, you could do no worse than Nic Battle’s ‘Big Boys Don’t Cry’ which is a raw tale of loss, hope, restoration and name dropping! (Nic’s in the music business and has worked with the likes of Gary Barlow, Simon Cowell & the Spice Girls)

However, following on from the death of his first wife, his passion is now his charity ‘Gravel Road Trust’ which supports those who have lost a loved one. Once a year he puts on a show and calls in a few favours. Saturday night was this show. Overall it didn’t disappoint.

I guess the headline was Sadie and the Hotheads who are fronted by Elizabeth McGovern who, in another parallel existence is the genteel, long fused Lady Cora, married to Lord Grantham, the master of Downton Abbey.

First thing: On telly, wearing an evening gown, you have no idea how anaemic the woman is. There’s literally nothing to her! Her guitar appears oversized and therefore looks to weigh her down, limiting her mobility and therefore stage presence. You really can’t help but want to take her on a tour of a KFC, Subway, McDonalds & Burger king. But, wait, musical talent is not based on appearance as Susan Boyle & Paul Potts have so adequately demonstrated, so I’m not being fair. We’ve come to hear you sing Sadie, not to sneer at your lack of litheness.

But here’s the problem. Elizabeth McGovern cannot sing. She joins the list of celebrities with talents elsewhere who are deluded in thinking that they have a career in music. I shall put Lizzie in the same Room 101 as Sam Fox, Arthur Dunne (RIP) Terry Wogan, Gazza and Chris Waddle! She seems like a lovely lady with a kind heart (she’s agreed to become Patron of the Trust) and her acting ability is unquestioned, but when she puts her lips to the mike, opens her mouth and exhales, nothing comes out!!

Two of a kind??

 Part of the problem is that she was sharing the bill with some real musical talent. As well as seasoned pros like David and Carrie Grant, there were a couple of artists who made the evening for me and I’d encourage you to check them out.

The first is a lovely Godly Irishman with a heart, a conscience and a desire to change the world. Andy Flanagans irishness allows him to make the words ‘star’ and ‘power’ rhyme, but that’s part of his charm. He’s disarming on stage as he chats between songs, but once the first chord of the guitar begins, complemented by a solo cellist, I was lost in a moment of mellowness, whilst still conscious of the pertinence and angst of lyrics such as ‘Failure is my fear, and caution is my call, But the surest way to sink is when you don’t move at all.’ There’s a sense that these are not lyrics about a third party. I love being disarmed by honesty, and its all the sweeter when its from a delightfully pleasant bloke! (checkout

In total contrast, The Open Road (checkout are a revelation! I have never appreciated anything from the genre of ‘folk’ but I guess that’s because I was limited in my knowledge to the likes of Lindisfarne and Fairport Convention!

Open road are all talented musicians with a look among some of them of travelling folk, but I’m reliably informed that no gates were damaged, and no scrap metal and empty gas cylinders were left once they departed. There is a little bit of everything including accordion, banjo electric double bass and surprisingly brass!  But it works. To cap it off they are fronted by a very pretty young lady called Heather Hepworth whose dulcet Yorkshire tones compliment the warmth which the band generate. The sound is controlled, balanced and altogether pleasing on the ear.

I’d definitely go and see them again, but here’s the problem: They’re just about to go on tour, supporting Sadie & the Hotheads! No contest!

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