Venue: Ritz Theatre, Worthing
Date: Wednesday 19th March 2014
I wasn’t taken with the first half of this concert – listening to singer/songwriters droning on about life’s misery begins to pall after one reaches forty (or even earlier) – but the second half was much livelier and used more traditional material, so overall the evening was pretty enjoyable.
There was no support tonight. Sam Carter himself came on and began with a song, accompanied only by guitar. The other two of the trio joined him for the second number – Matt Ridley on double bass and the drummer, whose name I didn’t catch (Karl Penney) – while Sam Sweeney joined them on fiddle and cello for the third song. (Two Sams would be confusing, so it’ll be Sam C and Sam S from now on.) I found it a bit distracting when the musicians who weren’t needed for a particular number left the stage; saved them sitting around doing nothing, of course, but it happened rather a lot. Mind you, Sam C was forever retuning his guitar, so there was plenty of time for the constant change of personnel. He even commenting on his predilection for detuning, and suggested that anyone else in the room who was interested could come up afterwards and chat to him about it – bit unlikely, but we did laugh.
In fact, his humour between the songs was one of the best things about the first half. Despite the misery of the songs’ contents, he kept us entertained with his descriptions of how the songs came about, and there were even opportunities for us to join in. One song about the death at a very young age of his elder sister was good, and the following song, a gift for a nephew called Lumpy’s Lullaby – that’s the name of the song, not the name of the nephew – was much more fun, even though it had turned out to be completely useless at getting children to sleep.
The songs for the first half also included a rejection number called something like Flattened Like A Pheasant On A Country Lane, the sea-disaster number Bones and a song based on The Garden Hymn, whose original fiddle tune title was apparently Piss Upon The Grass. The half ended with the audience being invited to join in a shanty called Won’t You Go My Way?, which we did.
The second half opened with Sam C alone again singing No Testament, accompanied by both him and us clapping. The rest of the group joined him for the excellent Shaker-based song Dreams Are Made Of Money. I don’t know if they did any tweaks to the sound during the interval, but Sam’s guitar playing came across much better in this half; the other instruments had drowned him out earlier. Then came a love song accompanied only by guitar and cello (Sam S again) and then we were given a long story about the life of a singer/songwriter which led up to Taxi. Sam S came back on for a couple of numbers, the first one a nonsense song and the second the instantly recognisable Jack Hall. This was really good stuff, so when Sam S did a quick promo for a tour he’s doing later in the year entitled ‘Made In The Great War’, we pricked up our ears. Steve will be researching that one for sure.
The pair then did some tunes on guitar and fiddle, followed by the full ensemble, with Sam C switching to electric guitar, for The One. I found the electric guitar too strong – it kept distorting – but he retained it for their ‘final’ number, the name of which I didn’t catch but it had a traditional flavour to it. Naturally the applause and calls of “more” were too much to resist, so they came back to finish off with a blues-style number, and took their bows again. Having enjoyed ourselves more than we’d expected, we left via the CD table at the back and reaped some interesting titles for our collection.
© 2014 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me