There was nothing in the way of original music to tempt us out tonight so, given that it was the first time in what seemed like ages that everybody was available, we decided to revert to a covers performance. I realise that sounds a bit denigrating. It’s not meant to. Every so often, at least in my opinion, it’s nice to head out somewhere where you know pretty much all the music, can enjoy a few decent beers and, to be honest, not worry too much about having a chat – after all, being in a busy pub (in this case, the Old White Swan) on a Friday night the performer can’t and, I assume, doesn’t expect everybody to be hanging on his every note.
Tonight’s performer, York ex-pat Marc Atkinson, is a very good singer/songwriter in his own right. He has already released two solo albums – one of his own material and a double CD of covers (one disc acoustic, the other electric) – and is involved in a number of, in my opinion, exciting projects. As well as lead vocals on a number of songs on this year’s forthcoming Mandalaband album, he is getting closer to finishing his own long-awaited Riversea project (of which he was kind enough to give me a copy of some of the work in progress) and is already working on a third solo album.
Tonight, though, it’s down to what he sees as his “day job” – entertaining the punters, getting them to stay a bit longer and, hopefully, spend more money in the pub. In a kind of reverse-karaoke scenario, Marc hands round a comprehensive and, in some cases, unusual list of songs he can perform and asks for requests from the audience, which seems to include a few regulars and fans, including one young, recently betrothed couple who had Marc sing at their wedding. If no requests are forthcoming, he simply picks something himself, varying the set nicely.
The guitar playing is kept relatively simple with few real flourishes, which isn’t an issue as it is Marc’s vocal talents which really cut through the ambient noise and, eventually, the crowd in the small room in which he is playing do seem to be taking more notice. In fact, this is a better behaved pub crowd than I would have expected, at least from previous experience. Maybe it helps that the music is effectively tucked away in a corner of what is quite a large pub, leaving more space for those who don’t want to listen to wander away into (unlike say The Roman Bath). In fact so good-natured was the crowd that, even the addition of some rather drunken Grandad-dancing, from a Dylan loving OAP who walked with a stick but discarded it to dance, only seemed to add to the entertainment (at least for a while…) A very entertaining and, it turned out, very late evening.
For the record, Marc’s set tonight comprised of: Yellow (Coldplay), Human (Killers), Tumble And Fall (Feeder), Chasing Cars (Snow Patrol), Many Of Horror (Biffy Clyro), Iris (The Goo Goo Dolls), Better Be Home Soon (Crowded House), Happy Birthday (the traditional one, not Altered Images, but sung in the voice of Donald Duck), Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Queen), Someone Like You (Adele), Stand By Me (Ben E. King), Stop and Stare (One Republic), Light Up (Snow Patrol), I’m Yours (Jason Mraz), Grenade (Bruno Mars), Angels (Robbie Williams), after which he stopped for a well-deserved break, before starting again with: Walking In Memphis (Mark Cohn), Lying Eyes (The Eagles), Wherever You Will Go (The Calling), Everybody Hurts (R.E.M.), Knocking On Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan), Summer Of ‘69 (Bryan Adams), Sex On Fire (Kings of Leon), Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen), Heaven (Bryan Adams), Valerie (Amy Winehouse), Still In Love With You (Thin Lizzy), Hotel California (The Eagles), a Beatles/Monkees medley, Have I Told You Lately (Van Morrison), Don’t Stop Believing (Journey), Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd), Babylon (David Gray), I Don’t Want To Talk About It (Rod Stewart).