Sean Taylor has just announced another flurry of gigs starting in February and through into March next year (details below). At the end of March Sean will be taking part in the birthday celebrations for the legendary Danny Thompson who hits the venerable age of 75.
Anyone who saw their recent show at the Half Moon will already be aware that Sean and Danny share a certain chemistry. The veteran bassman made his presence felt playing part of both Sean’s sets on the night. But Danny a sympathetic sideman as ever didn’t attempt to dominate or steal the limelight in what proved to be a cracking evening’s entertainment.
If you’ve not seen Sean then the dates early next year are a must. We made Chase The Night one of our Albums Of The Month and rightly so (read our review / interview here). It’s an absolute belter of a record and as a homage to the urban sprawl of London and especially Sean’s own manor of Kilburn, the song writing is finely etched and totally engaging. Seeing the man in the flesh, however, seals the deal.
For one thing, shorn of all of the studio razzle-dazzle, Sean is a much better guitarist than even the high standards of the recording suggest. In the live setting there’s a certain snap to his playing that pushes the songs along with a sense of urgency and vigour. His voice also has more of that smoky drawl and just the right amount of huskiness. Sean’s picked up comparisons with the likes of John Martyn down the years and it isn’t just the presence of Danny that adds weight to the likeness.
That said of course Sean is a very good songwriter in his own right and treads the fine line between folk and blues, both with his own songs and some well chosen covers. He clearly works at his lyrics in particular and they slide from his tongue creating a suggestive cocktail of competing emotions. The opener Heaven for example is anything but, salacious and smouldering it may be, but there’s a descent into narcotic wooziness, which could be confessional or a warning of the slippery slope of such seduction.
Although he has already released six albums, the last four make up the majority of his current set. As well as Heaven, the first set also has Stand Up from Love Against Death, while the second set also contains Raglan Road, Kilburn and Coal Not Doal, plus his clever re-working of 16 Tons. It’s the treatment of the latter and also the clincher for the first set, You’ll Never Walk Alone, which displays a real confidence working around the melodies to give them new shapes. Every time, his performance carries the song through with a deceptive ease that bellies the complexity of his playing.
Strangely, given the recent release, there are only three songs from Chase The Night, including the title track, London and So Fine. That’s not an issue in itself of course and it does show the wealth of material already at his finger tips. Again the title Track from Calcutta Grove and also Revelations are plucked from his 2009 release and slip seamlessly into the newer material. Across the two sets there are over 20 songs, with no obvious drop in quality anywhere.
It’s also worth noting that Sean is quick witted and entertaining throughout and as much as I love the records, there is a sense of a man in his element seeing him live. He’s clearly really enjoying himself. Having Danny play half of each set is of course a massive bonus and considerable endorsement, but Sean is certainly worth that.
By the time the shows come around in February, the set list will doubtless have changed and given that he writes a lot while on tour, there may well even be a new song or two to add even more variety. But any way the night carves up, if you get the chance Sean Taylor should not be missed.
Review by: Simon Holland
Free Download: River
‘River’ is a lyric for London and a spoken word piece dedicated to my home.
It took five years to write and references Camden, Brixton and the Thames.
I wrote ‘River’ in cafe’s, pubs, buses and tubes around the capital.
23/11/13 COLCHESTER Little Rabbit Barn
07/12/13 SALTBURN Saltburn Blues Club
14/02/14 RADIO Blues Session on Radio Wey
22/02/14 KETTERING Sofa Sessions
28/02/14 DURHAM Launderette Sessions
01/03/14 GATEHOUSE OF FLEET Mill Sessions
08/03/14 MANCHESTER Irish Festival
09/03/14 LONDON Green Note
16&17/03/14 SPAIN Costa Del Folk
20-22/03/14 FRANCE Blues Autour Du Zinc Festival
29/03/14 PETERBOROUGH Shakesdown Blues
31/03/14 LONDON Danny Thompson birthday gig with Eric Bibb @ Half Moon
18/04/14 MALTBY The Rock
03/05/14 BURTON ON TRENT The Brewhouse
22-25/05/14 KENT Small World Festival