Live Reviews | 2013
15 April 2013
Americana-UK was invited to the deepest depths of the English countryside to catch the latest show of the European tour by Birds of Chicago and their friend Peter Mulvey. Where else are you going to go to see folks from Chicago, Milwaukee, Vancouver and...er....London (although drummer Will Waghorn has lived in California so that kind of fits) but the leafy lanes of an Oxfordshire village ensconced in a rural pub. You need a decent pint of proper beer (or three or seven – possibly more since those exact details are a little hazy) to properly enjoy your Americana music live experience we have found and mein host at the Brasenose Arms Allan Tattersall did us proud in this respect (we didn’t try the food but, y’know, it’s there if you want it and the menu looked nice). In fact the whole ambience of the place was rather wonderful - fortunate then in many ways that the mooted marquee in the garden didn’t take place due to the vagaries of the English spring (or is it summer or winter or what?) Instead the gig took place inside the bar – imagine your front room with the sofas moved to the edges and a tempting array of beer pumps – which could comfortably be described as ‘intimate’. Whilst the clientele were quaffing their introductory pints up popped Peter Mulvey – sometime Milwaukee resident and veteran of the road (and the recording studio with some 18 or 19 albums under his belt) to play an entertaining set of covers and originals. That a person with just a guitar and a voice and a pleasing attitude can command the affection and respect of an audience says something about the magical experience of the live gig. Long may it continue. And, tonight, continue it did. Mulvey is earning his money twice over on this tour since he also plays rhythm/support guitar for The Birds of Chicago. Oh and some backing vocals. And, let’s face it, what you want from the Birds is that vocal. Whilst they (Allison Russell and Jeremy Lindsay) are accomplished multi-instrumentalists – Allison can even whistle like a songbird never mind blow an oboe or pick a mandolin – it’s the voices that count. Individually they can hold a proverbial tune but together, well, its a transcendendant experience. On record (and Americana-UK has some form on this – search our CD reviews archive for the evidence) they are a marvel but live they induce symptoms analogous to Stendahls Syndrome. There are some seventeen songs in total in the set mostly from their titular new album (naturally) with the odd nod to previous releases. Of particular note is a new song – Kinderspel – which was written on this tour and is going to be a firm favourite with fans for a long time to come. Its not an exaggeration to say that it is the perfect showcase of the band’s talent – country/folk/soul played and sung with a beguiling mixture of passion and restraint. At the conclusion of the evening the band relaxed with the audience, chatting, hanging out, taking pictures...a great end to a great night.