Jumpin’ Hot Club at Live Theatre
10 Oct 2019
I’m still suffering from a bit of a ‘block’ when it comes to seeing live music these days; so it takes someone special to get me out of the house on a cold and miserable Thursday night.
On the back of a trio of exceptional albums, Rod Picott is one of the few capable of getting me to load up the camera and sharpen my reviewers pencil.
Sporting a big ole Epiphone semi-acoustic guitar, 0pening act was Yorkshire Lass Elaine Palmer, who informed us early on that she’s been playing at the Jumpin’ Hot Club for 20 years (yet she looks so darn young!).
Obviously I’ve seen her a few times over those years, but there was something a bit ‘special’ about her performance tonight. Her first song Coulda Been Lovers was as sad as you’d expect; but the next song No Fear was a huge surprise as it was full of Post-Punk angst that made it very memorable indeed.
This was followed by the dark and brooding Make Believe, in which the guitar played its part by providing a rumbling accompaniment, which was near perfect for such a dank evening.
Perhaps she’s mentioned it before, but she spent a lot of her childhood flitting between Yorkshire and Arizona; which came to play in the Country tunes Blackened Heart and Drive By; which had her attacking the gritty end of her guitar’s fret-board.
It was quite a performance and goes to show you should always go to see the support act, regardless of how many times you’ve seen them before.
After a very brief break we were called back into the ‘sold out’ hall as Rod was already on stage.
(A confirmed Anglophile. he was keen to get back to his friends house to watch the politics show Question Time on BBC1!)
With no introduction he eased straight into a very intense version of Getting To Me, during which he screwed his face up everytime he sang the chorus.
That’s one of the beauties of watching Rod Picott perform; he really inhabits his songs each and every night.
Early on he announced that he was going to concentrate on singing and try to keep the chat to a minimum; which he did ……. but his stories are always insightful and often very funny indeed.
This meant some songs were introduced and others from his vast back catalogue came and went with the wind.
Of the newer songs Take Home Pay and Welding Burns were both rawer and more passionate than on record, and the man from Maine really dug deep for Workshirts and Turpentine.
As a relative newcomer to Rod Picott’s music, I had no idea he had been in a longish relationship and toured the USA with Amanda Shires; but he did and the story behind the delicate ‘break up song’ I Might Be Broken Now was fascinating, as the couple wrote it together as they were breaking up.
As was expected Rod included a couple of songs from the new album; and that was no hardship at all with The Folds of Your Dress, the incredibly beautiful Ghost and especially 38 Special and a Hermes Purse were all simply outstanding tonight.
As is his won’t Rod asked for requests, but didn’t expect any as ‘You English are so reserved.’
Ha! He was inundated with three mumbles …… which begat my own favourite, Black T-Shirt (but I was too embarrassed to shout for it), Uncle John which was new to me, but made sense following his back story; and a song I mostly know from his occasional writing partner Slaid Cleave’s version …….. Tiger Tom Dixon, who was actually one of Picott’s long lost relatives, but the story in the song was very accurate and astute too.
After an obligatory 10 second gap, when he walked off stage counted to three then re-entered the arena Rod gave us another Classic I’d never heard before; the fabulous Mobile Home and another song which sounded all too familiar but I couldn’t quite place it until it was virtually finished ……… it was only Bruce’s Badlands! Which, it has to be said sounded very authentic in Rod Picott’s hands.
Thin in the blink of an eye he was behind the merch desk glad-handing, posing for selfies with fans and selling more CD’s than HMV did in 2017!