Breathing Space Unplugged – The Punchbowl, 14/08/09

Crikey! It’s been over a month since my last post, which means that it has also been over a month since I went to a gig. I have to admit that, in my opinion, the live music scene in York is a little bit in the doldrums at the moment – even looking at the Duchess’s What’s On list for the rest of the year there are only a handful of bands that I am actually looking forward to seeing. Although, I was chatting to Bryan Josh during the break, asking him whether there were any plans to perform his solo stuff live in York and it turns out that the first weekend in December is going to be quite busy – Bryan Josh at the Duchess on the 4th, Mostly Autumn at the Grand Opera House on the 5th and Breathing Space at the Duchess on the 6th.

Tonight, however, it’s a cut down attendee list (myself and Roy) out to see a cut down band (Breathing Space unplugged , a.k.a. Iain Jennings and Livvy Sparnenn) playing a mostly acoustic set at the somewhat intimate venue that is the Punchbowl. It was reasonably busy, meaning that the area reserved for live music was quite full with some very familiar faces in attendance, including family and friends of the performers. Unfortunately, from where I was standing Livvy was perfectly hidden by a speaker.

This was the first unplugged set the duo have performed and they as much as admitted that they probably hadn’t rehearsed as much as they should have done, leading to the use of cheat sheets for some lyrics. Apart from that, however, it was a superb performance. Livvy’s voice, not having to fight against the sound of the rest of the band (or, perhaps, the acoustics in the usual venue) was stunning and came across as stronger than normal. My only criticism is that it came across as just a little too strong on a couple of occasions during a cover version of Fields of Gold.

Iain’s keyboards, in this case more piano-like than synthesiser, are always brilliant and tonight he showed that he can play both his own compositions using a different style and some more-than-competent cover versions. Tonight was also the first time that I realised that keyboards themselves can be used to keep time during a performance (obvious in hindsight but I’m musically incompetent, remember…) and there were more than a few times when I found myself playing along with Iain (on my leg) where I would normally be doing something similar to the drum line.

Overall, we were treated to nearly two hours of music which added a new dimension to the existing catalogue and provided an insight into the new album (sadly not available tonight, despite the hope of being able to pick up a copy being the main reason I decided to go out on my wedding anniversary…) It’s probably not a surprise that the set leaned heavily towards Beneath The Radar, with six songs from it being performed. Perhaps more surprising was that we also heard six covers and only a total of five songs from the first two albums. It may still be too soon the band’s career to suggest an album in the format of Bon Jovi’s This Left Feels Right, but it may well be an option in the future. The full set list, with sources and a few notes, was:

Coming Up For Air (Coming Up For Air); Clear (Beneath The Radar – the only song from that album written by Paul Teasdale and also available on the cover CD of Classic Rock Presents Prog issue 3); Dusk (Beneath The Radar); No Promises (Breathing Space); You’ve Got A Friend (Carole King); Belief (Breathing Space); Lantern (Beneath The Radar – performed live for the first time tonight); Fields Of Gold (Sting); Here Comes The Rain Again (Annie Lennox); When I Hold Onto You (Coming Up For Air); Rain Song (Coming Up For Air – in my opinion, the best performance of the night and originally performed by Livvy and Chris Johnson when they supported Mostly Autumn); Autumn Leaves (Eva Cassidy); The Night Takes You Home (Beneath The Radar); Never Make Your Move Too Soon (Bonnie Raitt); Drowning (Beneath The Radar); I Can’t Make You Love Me (Bonnie Raitt); Questioning Eyes (Beneath The Radar).

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About Ian

Regular gig-goer in York, both to see local and touring bands. Huge music fan, with more CDs than my wife thinks any one person should own. I also collect American comics, read a lot of SF and fantasy and am a season-ticket holder at Leeds United.
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