Thom Morecroft

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  • Charlie McKeon
  • Hannah Kewn
Mellowtone @ Scandinavian Church 27/1/16

A capacity crowd has gathered in the atmospheric confines of the Gustav Adolfs Kyrka to enjoy Mellowtone’s latest event, the launch of THOM MORECROFT’s crowd-funded EP Hand Me Down. Morecroft has built something of a reputation in singer-songwriter circles on the back of innumerable live performances, the albums Moon Moon Shake It and Something Shows, and recent BBC 6Music airplay.

After some housekeeping and a reminder that we are in a church (“Please don’t leave your empties on the pews!”), the evening kicks off with HANNAH KEWN, a music student at Liverpool Media Academy, whose gentle playing and sparse arrangements provide the setting for songs of serious soul searching that belie her age. “Could this nightmare be because of me?” she concludes in a barely audible whisper of self-realisation in Tell Me Straight, and “I got more than I desired” in Hey Boy, a song with a hint of Laura Marling about it. The whisper rises to a howl at times as she mixes up the emotions during an assured and very well-received set.

As Morecroft introduces the next act, CHARLIE McKEON, he takes time out to ask the crowd to answer a visiting music journalist’s query as to whether or not the Liverpool music scene is still (?) in the grip of some sort of post-Beatles atrophy – the crowd are loud and unanimous in their derision and rejection of any such ludicrous notion.

McKeon settles things back down as the crowd immediately warm to his classy, deft picking, his light, airy voice and the pretty melody of opener Some Years Are Good. He follows this with the bluesy, choppy My Love’s A Preacher, before announcing with a smile, “This one’s about Barcelona… well, it’s not really… it’s about me, isn’t it?… me in a different place”. He follows this by introducing his final song with the words “This is a traditional Irish song, Irish music is my second favourite obsession, after myself”, cementing the impression of a humorously self-fixated troubadour. His version of Banks Of The Barne/The Auld Triangle proves what an agile and versatile interpreter he is.

Morecroft takes the mike in front of an ‘on-board’ crowd of friends and fans and there is no shortage of banter throughout. Yet again the playing is assured, the picking delicate and clear and the strumming razor sharp amid some lovely melodies. His tremulous, quavering voice lends a fragile feel to songs such as Coming Up For Air and Daisy. The sound is excellent, apart from a few sizeable static shocks which temporarily leave Morecroft hopping between mikes in search of some amplification, but the atmosphere is so laid back that this is easily laughed off and immediately forgotten.

He is joined by a couple of duettists; Elle Schillereff performs a lovely, crystal-clear, country-tinged vocal on The Good Girl and Dan Astles proves an animated partner on the more forceful Tiptoes.

If there is a theme running through the evening it is that the sometimes ‘heavy’ emotional content of the songs is presented by all the artists with a lightness of touch which runs in counterpoint to much of the subject matter. If the ghosts of Denny, Martyn and Drake have been evoked tonight then it has been a very pleasant haunting. Mellowtone have presented yet another classy collaboration amidst the shuttering candlelight of the Scandinavian Church.

            Glyn Akroyd

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