I've taken time to write these reviews of the London Klezmer Quartet and JC Ryan, not beacuase of the quality of music, more due to the experience of actually hearing the music.
Beginning with the London Klezmer Quartet, they played at the Green Note in Camden, a lovely little place, cosy, eating people mixed with music lovers, possibly the eating people loved music too, who knows?
The last time I saw Susi Evans play was at a concert in the Purcell Rooms, playing with the fantastic She'Koyokh. Any time someone asks me who to look out for, it's She'Koyokh. See them live, buy the CD, always worth the investment.
The LKQ at the Green Note was no less musically entertaining, especially as we got to hear introductions from all the performers. If there was any problem on my part, it was probably the assumption that I was there and I had an understanding of Klezmer. So, no problem on my part, I get a book and read. Then I understand. I know more now than I did before seeing them. From reading.
The music itself was impeccably played by the whole quartet, the cellist wasn't ignored, fun was had by all musicians, and Susi shone with her solos, as I've seen her shine before. Charisma is the word for it.
I won't leave it at that. Every member of the LKQ can be said to be fantastic, in my opinion though Susi has a slight advantage. I don't think any of the other members would argue.
That was Thursday. Then came Friday. Camden again, to see my very good friend JC (Jo to me) Ryan.
Jo and her new band played 7 songs. I remember 5 of them, having played them with her at The Castle in Portobello for a while. 2 new songs sounded strong and a welcome addition to her already strong repertoire of engaging songs. For me, her best song "Aberavon Rd" was lost behind a sound that was too heavy on the rhythm section. It should have been delicate and magical. Even the roaring 'Best Days' was muddied by the sound of bass and drums.
Both great gigs, both with great music. Here come the reservations.
For the Green Note concert, no matter how much I love Klezmer, Susi, or the whole concept of music in a bijou restaurant, £12 is too much. I had friends who arrived after the start, I met them at the interval outside the "music/food" area. Some people left. "Would you like to go in now?" they were asked. How much? £12. That's the way to promote local music.
For the JC Ryan gig at the Camden Rock venue in (surprise) Camden, a slightly different story. I wasn't there for the soundcheck, I was only there for the actual gig. The only way I could recognise most of the songs was that I'd played many of them myself. The unique point about Jo isn't her band, not even her songs (fine though they are) it is simply her voice. It was overwhelmed by bad balance, feedback, bad mixing.... ok, let me tell it straight, the sound engineer was not up to the job.
All the members of JC's band and Jo herself can feel comfortable that they did the best job they could, but sometimes this kind of stuff happens. Next time they'll, perhaps take more time with sound-checks or working with (or kill) the sound engineer. If you ever get the chance to see and hear Jo do the banjo/reggae version of her own song "Hey Boy' you will have had a good night.
Camden Rock bloke: Alright mate
Me: Yeah, I'm on the list (meaning 'PRESS')
Camden Rock bloke: Yeah, it's five quid.
I don't mind paying, I really mind the fact it wasn't even a question. So, Camden Rock minus 5 for ignorance, Green Note minus 5 for greed. Both bands +5 for being excellent.