Aynsley Lister – The Duchess, 23/11/12

It was a bit of a tough choice tonight. Over at Fibbers, The (partly) new line-up of the Heather Findlay Band were playing and I had been planning in going along since the date had been announced. The rest of the gang, however, were leaning more towards seeing Aynsley Lister. It would have been at least slightly churlish to go against the flow, especially given that not only hadn’t we seen him before (and, therefore, we would be hearing some new music, as opposed to Heather’s gig which would consist totally of songs I knew * ) but it had also been quite some time since we had all been out to a gig together.

So it was that we met up, albeit briefly, at The Duchess. Let me explain – as usual, Andy and I planned to meet up before the gig to sample some proper beer at a nearby pub. I had phoned the venue earlier in the day to ask what the stage times were and had been told that the support act would be starting at eight o’clock, so that’s when we aimed to get there. As it turned out, there was no support act (this was the second time this week, that I know of that somebody had been wrongly told there was) and Lister wasn’t due to take the stage until eight thirty. Anyway, Andy and I decided to head back out for another pint, leaving Roj and Lynn to enjoy their Duchess soft drinks. So much for “haven’t seen each other for ages”… Anyway, we still managed to catch up a bit when we got back as the gig eventually started much closer to nine!

Aynsley is a Blues guitarist and while his opening number was immediately recognisable as Blues, the slower Early Morning Dew had more of a Country feel to it, showing that he incorporates other influences into his music. While he doesn’t sweat and strain over his playing like some guitarists, it couldn’t be said that he plays with the apparent ease of the likes of Chantel McGregor. His playful banter and vague likeness to Hugh Grant, however, seems to endear him to one audience demographic. As he introduced new song Inside Out there was a cry of, “I Love You” from one woman, closely followed by, “I love you more” from her husband. It turns out that they had, apparently, spent nine hours driving up from Bournemouth for tonight’s gig. A few more random shouts led me to suspect that I had arrived in York just as the pubs opened for the day – a suspicion that seemed borne out when the woman caused a slight problem for Aynlsey (not to mention those of us behind her in the queue) when he was trying to sell CDs after the gig.

Eric Clapton is one obvious influence on Aynsley’s guitar work – the piano opening  to What’s It All About soon gives way to something that instantly reminded me of Clapton’s theme to the 80’s drama Edge Of Darkness. Later in the gig, there was a similar trip down memory lane during Texture Of Your Skin. Variation came along in the shape of a re-working of Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy, which was interesting but, I’m afraid, did nothing for me and, as much as it pains me to say so, I actually preferred the original. A cover of Nina Simone’s Feeling Good, however, bordered on sublime and featured a really nice piano solo, while a couple of originals, including Sensible Love with it’s alternating slow and fast section, showcased the music on offer.

Another influence became apparent during the set closer. Early Morning is a much more Rock and Roll track which, at least partly due to the guitar used by Aynsley, combined with the retro sound and intricate guitar work, couldn’t help but bring to mind images of Michael J. Fox playing during the Under The Sea Dance in Back To The Future.

Sadly the venue’s early curfew (see last post) meant that we only got one encore. It seems that the woman mentioned earlier had come all that way to hear Purple Rain in particular. I’m not sure whether it was planned as the encore all along but her request was granted. I’m also not sure how Aynsley feels about somebody requesting a cover, as opposed to one of his own tracks but it has to be said that it is, in fact, quite a good version.

Compared to others, this may not have been the best value local gig we have seen (£12 for about one hundred minutes of music isn’t bad, but why are support acts suddenly such a dying breed?) but it was a reasonably impressive performance that introduced me to yet another modern blues guitarist and one I wouldn’t be averse to seeing again.

* As I understand it, from reading other reviews, Heather’s band did play one new song tonight.

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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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