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  • Peter Smyth
  • Dave Owen
Mellowtone, Ceremony Concerts and Harvest Sun @ The Shipping Forecast 18/2/15

It would be understating the fact to describe tonight’s venue as snug, but I’m sure the three blokes with guitars who are performing in it are grateful for this intimacy. DAVE OWEN brings a wealth of charisma to this atmosphere by way of getting the ball rolling. His brand of folk is influenced largely by American country music, although the style he plays, and his accent when singing, may be a little bit too Americanised. But it can’t be denied that Owen knows how to communicate ideas, without sounding preachy in sharing his overtly politicised views.

Mugstar’s PETER SMYTH is up next, his subtle guitar style adding plenty of dynamism to his acoustic balladry. While he plays he holds the crowd’s undivided attention; while his voice is not his strongest attribute it couples nicely with his style of music and his melodic guitar playing. The crowd is engrossed with Smyth’s set – perhaps these departures from his much louder band should happen more frequently.



The last time Newcastle native RICHARD DAWSON played in Liverpool, it was before an audience of perhaps thirty at Static Gallery in a performance unforgettable for all who witnessed it. Since then, Dawson’s most recent record, Nothing Important, has been released by Domino Records to widespread critical acclaim, culminating in this, the final date of an intense, short tour. Before the show, Dawson explains to me how close he came to cancelling the last couple of dates of the tour due to a bad throat and broken voice. He feels happy, and lucky, to be here now that he’s in fine shape to perform.

He begins his set with two a cappella numbers, one of which is The Brisk Lad, a haunting piece that has this packed room bristling with imagery. The crowd are hanging on his every word. It’s as if he’s delivering coded secrets through his music – those present are lost in the mystery. He picks up his guitar and treats us to tracks Wooden Bag, Black Dog In The Sky and the instrumental The Bamburgh Beast. During the more recent Judas Iscariot, his guitar style remains visceral but somehow still delicate and beguiling. This is possibly the loudest folk music you can experience; his voice bellows through the speakers during more a cappella pieces such as Poor Old Horse.

Dawson finishes his set with The Vile Stuff, his recent single and the breakthrough track for this new phase of his career. He seems to have a strange reaction when his mention of the track receives loud applause. He doesn’t seem comfortable with the prospect of his rising renown. Unfortunately for him, if he keeps playing as expressively as he has done tonight, that renown seems unstoppable.

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