Trembling Bells & Mike Heron

The Circle Is Unbroken Tour
The Capstone Theatre
15th October 2013

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

Swan Song

Downstairs at The Capstone the reception desk was decked out with piles of LPs and CD’s for tonight’s collaboration, ‘The Circle Is Unbroken’. The ageing crowd, as they not quite poured in, gave a fair indication of who they had come to see. The scene was set and yet . . .

Onto the stage came a lanky guy dressed in stripey red shirt carrying a guitar. It was Canadian Doug Tielli, and the first half of the show was to be his. Showcasing a new compilation ‘Swan, Sky, Sea, Squirrel, (another gaudy green album cover which seemed to be the colour of choice this evening), he used the smokescreen on stage to say that he could not see the audience before plunging into ‘Waterfalls’. It’s soaring first note would have made the Italian castrato Farinelli proud . A few bars later his voice had descended a couple of octaves, as accompanied by his guitar, he journeyed on an unannounced trip of his homeland. His offbeat jazz and blues also reflected a lost passport enforced sojourn in the English village of Kerseley, just outside Coventry. Hey Milo had him in soporific mode before ‘I dream that I am’ brought his unlooked for strange and hypnotic set to a close.

After the interval the billed swan song and new kids on the block took centre stage. Mike Heron, at 70, fronted the spikey Celtic folk-rock upstarts on this tour to celebrate the music of 1960’s inspired exponents of the psychedelia genre, The Incredible String Band, along with the six strong headliners from Glasgow.

In truth the set did not really get going. Heron strutted his stuff, thigh slapping his way through the old standards and new songs alike, but he was not the driving force of his younger days, and the band, for the most part, was unable to break out of the strait-jacket of unimprovised conformity.

When they eventually got an extended three song slot to display their wares, as Heron exited stage left, they too lacked some of the magic the off the wall music required. Harsh maybe, but an unfettered outing next week at Leaf, Liverpool, should show their true colours. Led on drums by Alex Neilsen, and with Mike Hastings on guitar, Lavinia Blackwall’s soprano voice, (she is tipped to be the new Sandy Denny), was a bit too deep and strident and like the rest of the band did not have enough time to fully open up. It was left to father Heron and daughter Georgia Sedden to close proceedings with the prescient ‘The Cold Days of February’.


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