Weekends in York are still providing sparse fare in respect of new music to tempt us to the city’s bigger venues. Thankfully, while the “clubs” are failing to entice, those pubs which try to drag the punters in by providing musical entertainment (albeit generally in the form of covers bands) are still providing ample opportunities to see some good acts. Tonight it’s a rare full complement, including one new-comer, on an even rarer visit to the Punchbowl (Stonegate version) to see someone who is rapidly becoming a favourite.
I suppose, if we were to be totally honest, none of us would have known about Adam Dawson if he hadn’t been chosen as Breathing Space’s new guitarist. Although he plays regularly in York, it’s generally not in a combination of venues we frequent and the nights we frequent them. Tonight, though, is the third time I’ve seen him, in a third different venue. It’s not just the music, either – Adam seems happy enough to take time to speak with the punters and comes across as a genuinely nice guy.
The Punchbowl is a bit of a strange venue for music. The acts perform in one of its three rooms. In fact the room that doubles as a dining area and that people have to walk though to get to the back bar and the, errm, conveniences. The former means that the music doesn’t start until food has stopped being server and eaten and the latter means that it can be quite a busy thoroughfare. Tonight, as Adam started his set, all the tables were taken and my usual standing spot was occupied. In fact, by the time we had all turned up I found myself standing through the doorway of the back bar, listening to the music rather than watching the performance and directly in line with the Table.
Why the capitalisation? Well, for me at least the Table has taken on a degree of notoriety. The smaller of two tables directly in front of the stage area it seems that every time I’ve seen an act at the Punchbowl it has been occupied by people who are determined to shout at each other over the music. Tonight was no exception but it was slightly embarrassing when I pointed out the Table to Adam while chatting to him during his break only to have him tell me that the occupants were friends of his. You know those times when you wish that the ground would open up underneath you…?
Anyway, as the second half of the set started, the occupants of both of the tables in front of the stage had moved, meaning that we got a chance to sit down, a much better view and less shouting. For all its faults, the Punchbowl does serve a very good selection of real ale and is a pretty good venue for music.
I realise that I’ve yet to mention Adam’s performance. The set comprised mostly of songs we’ve heard him perform before and which are becoming familiar, even if I can’t remember what some of them are called or who sang them without resorting to noting down lyrics, hoping I can read my won writing when I got home and Googling. Tonight a mixture of technical difficulties and a voice suffering from a week of teaching meant that Adam felt the need to apologise for a below par sound and to choose carefully which songs to perform. Not that it was too noticeable and it was still a thoroughly entertaining evening.
We were even treated to three of Adam’s own songs – two more than last time. Along with the ubiquitous Lazy Susan, his latest single, we got I’m Coming Home and the beautiful and emotional Silver Skies, another track from the single, as the encore. I’d like to think that it was my request that got the latter played but it could just be that he was planning it anyway.
A more or less complete set list for tonight is:
Forever Lost (The Magic Numbers), unknown, Cannonball (Damien Rice), Dream Catch Me (Newton Faulkner), Chasing Cars (Snow Patrol), Hey There Delilah (Plain White T’s), Sewn (Feeling – not sure about this one), Rule The World (Coldplay), Poker Face (Lady Gaga), Use Somebody (Kings of Leon), Lazy Susan (Adam Dawson), Streets of London (Ralph McTell), Shine (Take That), I’m Coming Home (Adam Dawson), Little Lion Man (Munford & Sons), Sloop John B (The Beach Boys), Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen), Silver Skies (Adam Dawson)