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Andy Cutting @ The Greystones

November 19, 2010

Well, now we’ve whetted your appetite with a little look at The Greystones, how about a look at what else they have to offer?

As Aurore mentioned, they now have a rather splendid back room venue called (imaginatively) The Backroom. A million miles away from the Highcliffe Hotel as was, this feels like a slick jazz club, or even a rock venue. The walls are dotted about with some iconic shots of Sheffield artists and musicians such as Jarvis Cocker, Alex Turner, Jon Mclure, Pete Mckee, Richard Hawley, and also plenty of fantastic gig posters documenting the rich history of the Sheffield music scene. Add to that a bloody awesome portrait of David Lynch, and it’s like a shrine to Sheffield…plus Lynch (but that’s ok, because everyone loves David Lynch).

So – great venue, but what about the acts? Well, this was the first of the Bright Phoebus events at The Greystones, and so we were all quivering with anticipa-tion for our first time there. Bright Phoebus (if you’ve been living under a rock/aren’t into high quality traditional music) is a new-ish promotions setup in Sheffield putting on a series of folk clubs and concerts with a consistently high calibre of act. With Fay Hield, Jon Boden, and Martin Simpson among the ‘Bright Phoebus Allstars’ who regularly support the main act of the night. The events are a lovely friendly affair, with friends and colleagues all gathered round for a Very Special Evening.

Photo: Phil Carter/Bright Phoebus

Which was, of course, the inimitable Andy Cutting in a rare solo appearance. Now this is by no means an impartial review – my mother being the melodeon nut that she is has exposed me to all of Andy’s work since as long ago as I can reasonably remember, and played Lisa and  Lusignac on repeat in her car throughout the 1990s. I remember the day we realised mum had lost her cassette tape of Lisa. It was devastating – would my sister and I never get to hear Chris Wood’s version of When First I Came To Caledonia again? The tragedy was widely felt by folk fans, as we realised that Lisa had been taken out of production and we couldn’t get it back…

Without going on, Andy’s body of work has left a lasting impression on me, and if I’m honest, he’s one of the first musicians who compelled me to get involved in folk music myself.

So to the concert. To say that Andy is a talented Melodeon player is an understatement. In truth, I can’t think of anyone who comes close. His highly individual playing style displays both Anglo-French technique and completely individual sensibilities. How to convince somebody that several hours of solo melodeon sets could be as compelling and awesome as this was is pretty tough, but even the biggest sceptic’s mind would surely be changed by an evening spent in Mr Cutting’s company.

Andy played a number of tracks from his current solo album, incredibly the first solo effort he has ever put out (after a discography that looks like this, that’s pretty staggering), but also (and to the delight of myself and many others) some long archived tracks from his work with Chris Wood, and an extensive range of self-penned tunes, such as To The Edges, Waiting For Janet, Flatworld and The History Man.

What became apparent throughout the concert was how many of the ‘favourite’ tunes played in contemporary traditional tunes sessions are penned by Andy. Many of the above are staples at pubs and sessions, and all are fabulously enjoyable to play – he is, by all accounts, a musicians musician.

Photo: Phil Carter/Bright Phoebus

On top of all of that is his stage banter, which is enjoyable to the last, and always incredibly humble. There seems to be a funny anecdote behind the name or circumstances surrounding every one of his tunes, such as ‘Waiting For Janet’ – written for an evening spent with Kate Rusby in a hotel in Canada trying to spot Janet Jackson, which just adds to an already enjoyable evening.

In addition, the lovely Nancy Kerr was running proceedings, adding a few fiddle songs to the mix. The highlight of the evening for me was hearing Nancy and Andy playing a set together, as it was one my my favourite sets of his recorded tunes, originally played with Nigel Eaton. If you have spotify, have a listen here.

All in all – thumbs up for Bright Phoebus’ first outing at The Greystones, and here’s to many more to come. Next up is Belly Hardy’s Christmas tour on the 1st December, more information available at The Bright Phoebus site.

Rosie @ LoveSheffield

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