Review: a top Sunday night out at Acoustic Roots at the Clarendon

Paul Van Ryan playing at Acoustic Roots at the Clarendon in Leamington. Picture by Andrew Lock.
Paul Van Ryan playing at Acoustic Roots at the Clarendon in Leamington. Picture by Andrew Lock.

Acoustic Roots, Clarendon pub, Leamington, May 4.

This is a monthly free event put together by one of Leamington music scene’s greatest ambassadors, Matt Hernandez.

Matt always opens up proceedings in style with a few flamenco/classical guitar instrumentals and each show has a number of featured artists.

The first of this evening’s performers was the only duo of the evening, John Wright and Hilary Wilson, two local musicians who really seem to gel well together and also have great fun. They harmonise beautifully and their impressive set included jazz standard Summertim’ and a visit to the James Taylor song book.

Next up, Bob Cooper, with a powerful performance mixing original pieces and really well-chosen covers. I really liked the tone of Bob’s rich vocals and his set included the first of two visits this evening to the work of Tom Waits and Bob Dylan, the former with an emotional House Where Nobody Lives and the latter a run through Highway 61 Revisited. He finished by really changing the genres with a beautiful version of Bee Gees ballad How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.

One of my favourite artists was next on the bill - the sensational Kristy Gallacher and with her third album The Game. This musical workaholic surprised me with a couple of brand new songs (as yet untitled) in the set that show she is still going from strength to strength. Two of my standout numbers from her latest album made the set: the brisk and catchy Blood and the more laid back, slow burning groove of Dark Hours. Her part of the evening also included the return to the work of Tom Waits with a fabulous The Heart of Saturday Night and she closed in Dylan territory with a magnificent Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right. A fantastic set as always from Kristy.

Last on the bill someone who was not that long ago a major part of the local music scene, Paul Van Ryan. His performance was full of energy, power and a little experimental magic via effective use of delay and loops. I was especially impressed with his take on the classic pop number Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This).

An impressive line up, friendly atmosphere, great music and excellent real ale. Sounds like a top Sunday night to me.

Andrew Lock