Ashington Folk Club 28 April 2012
James Stephenson from the Sour Mash Trio opened the proceedings with a rare solo acoustic performance. From the outset the young singer looked and sounded very nervous but his ready smile and stripped back versions of the bands’ Rockabilly love songs Sugar Daddy, Drinking for Two and One More Kiss quickly won over any doubting Folk fans in the Concert room of a Working Men’s Club.
Looking as debonair as ever, it took Pete Molinari 3 songs to finally remember where he actually was – Ashington Folk Club! But, who’d ever have believed that Bruce Springsteen’s favourite British singer would appear in such a venue?
Well; 170 people did believe it and had traveled from all over the North to make it standing room only for the first time in decades at Ashington Institute.
Molinari’s career has moved on in leaps and bounds since his debut album in 2006 but, in deference to performing in a Folk Club he opened the two hour set with his own Dylan inspired Love Lies Bleeding which set the mood perfectly.
Pete had the crowd in the palm of his hands and totally disregarded the set list at his feet and just enjoyed himself by performing a jumble of songs from his short but varied career to a new set of music fans; even stripping several right back to basics for the folk club setting.
With the crowd already hanging on to his every word, you could have heard a pin drop when he sang a starker than usual version of the anti-war song Lest We Forget quite early in the set then followed it with Goddam Lonesome Blues.
I can’t think of another current songwriter who can write Country love songs as powerful and emotional as Pete Molinari and that’s really saying something; and tonight’s version of Love Minus Me caught me off guard as the vibrato in Molinari’s voice had my bottom lip trembling.
Somewhere in the middle of the evening Molinari managed to road-test a couple of new songs that bode well for the next album that will be released later this year. Your Troubles Are Greater Than Mine sounding a bit like Conway Twitty and the Spanish guitar influenced A Song of 1,000 Days made my spine tingle.
Although I know the song Angelina very well I didn’t know that it was written about his Grandmother after reading some of her old love letters after she’d died. I liked the song before the story and loved it afterwards.
I’ve been a Molinari fan for 5 or 6 years now and have never known which pigeon-hole to put him into but halfway through the song his soft voice was made for; One Stolen Moment I realised that he truly is the last purveyor of the Country Love Song – no one is doing it better as my lip trembled again.
As the evening drew to a close Pete went for the emotional jugular with a stupefying version of Satisfied Mind then encored with Tennessee Waltz dedicated to the glamorous blonde woman in the front row.
Then; looking genuinely humbled by the audience’s cheers he stepped away from the mic to perform a beautiful version of I’m So Lonesome (I could cry) and as the lights came back on I wasn’t the only one quietly dabbing at my eyes.
Like all Folk Clubs, the Ashington one has a rich history and proudly boasts having booked Alexis Korner and a fledgling Fleetwood Mac in the 1960’s and Lindisfarne a decade later; the new people running the club now still intend promoting regional acts but also have plans to bring even more internationally recognised folk and Blues artists to the small Northumberland town in the next 12 months.