The Old Cinema Launderette
26th April 2018
This has been a funny old year for me and Live Music. It’s not so very long ago I went to 2 or 3 gigs every week; yet in 2018 I’ve only been to 5 (and walked out of two of them!); so going out on a school night after a 5.30 am alarm call for a 10 hour shift at work was quite a big deal.
But, Jerry Leger is a big deal at RMHQ after discovering him earlier this year via his new album Nonsense & Heartache, which we love with all our hearts.
Also; this amazing venue……an actual working Launderette has been on my radar for a couple of years and this was to be my debut, which again made the whole night especially exciting.
Opening act was a male/female Folk duo called *Steamtown; apparently from the pretty market town of Knaresbrough just down the road.
With time being of the essence they only got to perform 5 songs; with two being ‘about trains’, one about ‘drinking’ and two more about ‘the things that keep you awake at night.’
While undoubtedly a Folk Act, the inclusion of a low slung banjo and red hot harmonica (both played by the lady in the act) made them a lot more interesting than I’d expected with a song about the ‘traumas of dating later in life’ About It All being a highlight of the whole night.
Although not quite sold out, the tiny venue was still full enough to create a palpable sense of excitement as Jerry and his bandmates swiftly made their way to the makeshift stage in front of three industrial sized washing machines.
With only three ceiling lights alongside some buses and occasional blue flashing lights from the other side of the plate glass windows illuminating the quartet they opened their first set with the mellow and melodic Things Are Changing, which set the mood for an intimate and windswept evening of Canadiacana.
Playing fast and loose with their back catalogue alongside the new album the band delivered 21 songs in just under two hours; and not a single one felt like ‘filler.’
While I was very familiar with the new songs; the others; especially Den of Sin, Nobody’s Angel and Early Riser which felt like old friends revisiting us even though I’d never heard them before.
Of the other songs on offer, the toe-tapping Baby’s Got a Rare Gun and Big Smoke taking us back to the Rock n Roll days of Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison and (although my friends disagreed) I thought the magical Den of Sin reminded me of Ram era McCartney.
With the room being so small the audience got to see all of the complex and intricate constituent parts coming together first hand that make such magical music appear so deceptively simple.
First and foremost Jerry Leger is a first-class storyteller in the best traditions of Dylan and Springsteen but there’s a distinctive air of Canadian Cool to the way he sings them, including plenty of detail but leaving space for the listener to interperate them in their own personal way.
His band are quite exceptional too; with a drummer that made every single note exciting and shiver inducing in equal measures, a bass player who could sound like gentle thunder and a heart beating when needed and a guy who made his lap-steel sizzle and shine but when he played his fiddle, the room all took a collective breath.
Add all of that together and you will find a very special night in a very special venue; and I can’t recommend seeing Jerry Leger play live or buy his albums highly enough.