This was billed as being a very special showcase of International Singer songwriter talent and having connections to the Americana festival taking place in town last week. It was my first visit to this new east London venue that is mainly a sports bar with a small gig venue in the basement that is a nicely odd addition to the live gig scene as the room has pretty good sound and is about right for showcase gigs.
I missed all but the last minute of first act on Billy King so didn't hear enough to make any real comment. He was soon followed by Lara Taubman who is over from New York and playing her first UK show, she played a set of love gone wrong songs that mainly reminded me of singers called Hannah in particular, Hannah Marcus and Hannah-Lou (And Trevor Moss).
Sadly she didn't have any songs that were really memorable but the duet she did with Rob Mclaren from Duke Hand gave an idea of how with a few more musicians her songs might actually stand out a bit more. Heartbreak Garden almost seemed like a theme song as everything was about yet another relationship ending either after two or three dates or a bit longer.
The song about song writing I wish I Could Be Friends made her sound as much of a stalker as a songwriter it wasn't creepy but did end up like a list of people she wanted a relationship with rather than those already done and dusted
She closed with the title song of her album Revelation and apart from its title and some ok strumming I remember revelatory about it.
Next on was Izaak Opatz who comes from the mountains of Montana and was also playing his first London show. He did look a bit like a hick from the sticks and again most of the songs were about love going wrong over a decently strummed acoustic I only had problems with his playing when he tried to solo as he sounded like he needed another guitarist to do that for him as a couple of the solo bits were quite jarring.
The first song to grab my attention of his was the one about Love Under The Table that at least had some interesting lyrics. Chinook Wind seemed to be the song he was most proud of and it was interesting and held most of my attention, but the one really memorable song he has is Shampoo about being on the road sofa surfing and using your hosts toiletries easily the one song of his you need to hear.
He finished with Gravel Road that felt like he was still in the middle of nowhere trying to get back to a town and somehow, he got an encore and played Not Yet that could well sum up my feelings for his chances.
Then on came Paul J Bolger who you may know for his artwork rather than his music, but he is trying to change that, he was over from Waterford to start promoting his new album, that's due out either in Late April or Early May.
He opened with a song about what it's like Inside His Head that was pretty good and his guitar playing sounded a lot like he was playing rhythm to someone else's lead but it had enough imagery to make sure we know he's lived a life.
Lady Love & The Cavalier was a decent story song to get us thinking. He then deployed his secret weapon by asking Barbara Bartz to join him on Fiddle and of course Basia really lifted things with some wonderful improvised Violin parts as apparently they only met earlier in the day, but she really is the go to player for this sort of gig, I hope to see her with Trent Miller again soon.
Paul then sang what has to be a worrying song for anyone living close to the border in Ireland either north or south in his Border Song and Basia's playing made sure it felt like a lament for the peaceful times that may be passing.
The song I guess was called Treat You Like A Child had a rather baleful feel in places but was full of feeling for times gone by both good and bad.
Paul then said thanks to Basia and invited Andy Kandil from The Zorchmen/Guitar Slingers to play non psychobilly guitar first on Hard Truth that Andy added some cool textures too to bring out the tale of dissolution that Paul was singing about.
Paul made sure we knew that Two Wrongs is going to be on his new album and it seemed to be getting at all sorts of truth as they both picked at it. He then closed with his song for a heavy session The Start of it that worked well as a duo but it's well worth watching the video that goes with the song to get it's full impact a great song to close with.
He got an encore and came back solo to play Godforsaken that was in no way about the venue we were in even if it was a slightly bleak way to end a pretty good set. I look forward to reviewing the album when it comes out.