The New Mendicants
Dingwall’s Camden, London 23rd January 2014
It was only by some meticulous planning that I found myself in London for this gig; and that was because I desperately wanted to see support act, Malojian’s London début.
The young singer-songwriter, from Belfast appeared nervous as he performed a handful of songs from his album The Deer’s Cry before a smattering of 40 people spread sparsely around the hall. Opening with Watch The Rain Stevie quickly won over the hardy few who weren’t stood talking loudly at the bar and Oftan Wonder; with its charming melody and refrain which received some warm applause and made a couple of people leave the bar to see what the fuss was about.
One of my favourite songs on the album; Old Timer took on added poignancy tonight when the singer dedicated it to his Father in Law who had a stroke two days earlier; and tonight’s delivery had the hair on my arms standing on end.
Julie-Anne has been picking up National radio play; and it certainly appeared to catch the ear of a few people when it ended the short set.
Who are the New Mendicants, you ask? Well; they are three friends, Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub), Joe Pernice (Scud Mountain Boys/Pernice Brothers) and Mike Belitsky (The Sadies) who got together to record the soundtrack to a film that was never made. They have subsequently released the songs anyway; and tonight’s concert; without Belitsky, was little more than two friends seated and crouched either side of a small table bearing bottles of wine, water and whisky in front of an audience that had swelled to about 300; with equal amounts of Pernice Brothers and Teenage Fanclub fans (who appeared to be witnessing something of a Messianic performance) and the rest who were just intrigued by the set up.
The duo began with a beautiful song (possibly) called Blue Sky or So Far Away that had harmonies worthy of Crosby and Nash who I saw only a few months ago,and Norman’s interpretation of Who Knows Where the Time Goes by Sandy Denny was quite spectacular in it’s simplicity.
From their album INTO THE LIME, Cruel Annette , about two men in love with the same woman and Sarasota , were both particularly good and highlighted the quality of Pernice’s song-writing and acerbic delivery.
One of Pernice’s older songs, The Loving Kind was simplicity itself but held the audience spellbound for nearly four minutes as the pair’s harmonies belied the informality of the evening; and were more suited to somewhere like the Royal Albert Hall across the city.
Hardcore fans of both songwriters were finally rewarded for their constant (and annoying) requests by exquisite versions of the Teenage Fanclub’s I Don’t Want Control of You and Silo from Pernice’s Scud Mountain days.
At the end of the evening I was fascinated to see the look of pure joy on plenty of fans faces but their chatter appeared to confirm that they’d been more excited by being physically close to their heroes; rather than the new songs they’d been listening to. Me? Although I enjoyed the evening; I found myself checking my watch at one stage, only to find that only 45 minutes had gone by.