On 2nd November Naomi Bedford and Paul Simmonds host the London launch for their new album, Songs My Ruiner Gave To Me (reviewed here), at the Troubadour in Earl’s Court. Among a smattering of northern appearances before the London gig, the duo came to Glasgow and the ever popular Hug & Pint.
Ahead of Naomi and Paul’s enthralling and unique country/folk blend, there was a set from singer, songwriter Xan Tyler; who also joined Naomi and Paul on their new album. Now based in Scotland but originally from London, Xan’s synth-pop origins have been mellowed by a love of acoustic music, resulting in an electro/acoustic sound that could be favourably compared with Fiona Apple. The soft, melodic opening of Tiny Bird, and the sleepy Sunday morning stroll in Halcyon Sunshine provided a gentle opening before No One Like You – a more upbeat offering with a punchy lyric that Paul Heaton would be proud of. There was clever use of vocal loops for Vicky, tackling self-criticism, and soft harmonies contrasting with the drama of Adam Scott‘s bowed double bass for the wistful Golden Hues. John Rooney‘s delicate guitar work helped Rainmaker come across like a lullaby, before the sparse accompaniment and Parisian atmosphere of Croddlin’ Doos resulted in a justifiably warm reception.
When Naomi Bedford and Paul Simmonds took to the stage there was an immediate and arresting passion in Naomi’s vocal for two numbers from the new album. Seven Days dreams of detachment, but the thoroughly enlivening Haven’t Started Yet takes a more positive view of life, in an ode to the passing years.
Although an album launch event, Naomi and Paul were happy to explore, they provided the Glasgow audience with two sparkling sets. There was a reminder of Naomi’s well-received 2007 debut with the gentle country melody Call Me Darling. From her previous two albums, the plaintive Clouds of Colwyn Bay and the harrowing Daddy’s Got a Gun highlighted the undeniable dark side the duo are able to draw on; while the brisk pace of Raise These Sails and biting criticism of Junktown set the feet, and the mind, in motion.
The social commentary in Junktown is also a trademark of Paul’s work with The Men They Couldn’t Hang, which seems a perfect fit for the duo’s live shows. Hardworking People hit as hard as it did on The Men They Couldn’t Hang’s triumphant return to the studio in 2014; and although drums, guitars and accordion rocked the 2003 original of The Hill, the impact of the song was in no way diminished with only Paul and Naomi on stage.
If the Glasgow audience came to hear more of Songs My Ruiner Gave To Me, though, they were far from disappointed. Joined by Xan Tyler on backing vocals, Naomi and Paul breezed through the bulk of the album in a flawless and utterly captivating performance. There was a delight in their eyes for the sheer exuberance of Ramshackle House, the political bite of I Hate You and Self Made Man was as sharp as ever; and hearing Naomi sing The Cruel Mother live had the same electrifying effect as listening to the new album did. Young Parson Richards, Naomi’s spell-binding reworking of Percy Shelley’s poem, is a lot of song for three people with one guitar between them. They nailed it, of course.
We were told their good friend Justin Currie wasn’t impressed when he first heard Better Than The Best, but he’s probably just too much of a cynic for a good, happy love song! The highlight of the night, though, may well have been Naomi’s utterly beautiful tribute to her late mother, Without Joy.
There was no lack of surprises either. Naomi’s perfect grasp of the Scottish vernacular was one, as was the doo-wop/country mash-up in tribute to the recently departed Tom Paley. What really brought the house down, though, was when a single word from Paul instigated a completely unforeseen solo delivery of Public Enemy‘s Bring The Noise from Naomi. Really, you had to be there.
It’s no wonder that Naomi and Paul received such a warm, exuberant reception in Glasgow. Over the course of two sets they performed such a startling variety of music, and they performed it with elegance, warmth and, above all, passion. Expect the unexpected when you go to see Naomi Bedford and Paul Simmonds play live. And you really should go.
Don’t miss them on 2nd November for their London album launch at the Troubadour, London.
More live dates here: http://www.naomibedford.com/naomi-bedford-gigs-and-performances.html