Clive Gregson & Stephen Fearing – Biddulph Up In Arms 21st October 2009
Clive Gregson’s and Stephen Fearing’s paths have crossed as far back as 1989, when the former Any Trouble songsmith produced Fearing’s “Blue Line” album. Separately, Gregson and Fearing have both made stellar appearances at this venue – Gregson going back to the early years of the club, when, with then partner Christine Collister they sold out the venue to provided a much-needed financial make-weight from which the club have gone on to prosper and establish a growing reputation as promoters of the finest roots and folk music in the Midlands. Fearing performed, on one occasion, what promoter Craig Pickering labelled the best ever performance at the club, so there was much anticipation for this Pickering-inspired double-header, put together with stalwart fellow promoter Eric Cox.
First up, Stephen Fearing played a tasteful selection from his “Best of” compilation “The man who married music” – and kept the audience enraptured with the quality of his lyrical observation and beautifully wistful tone. Stand-outs were “Beguiling Eyes” and “The man who married music” – anticipating themes of the difficulties experienced in maintaining a relationship when you’re a working musician, flagged up again in Clive Gregson’s set.
Clive was on as close as could be termed home-turf – he was certainly amongst friends familar with his catalogue going back to his days at the North Staffs Polytechnic who were treated to a varied set spanning his career – like Stephen Fearing, he was promoting a “Best of”. Gregson’s caramel voice and precocious guitar playing deserve a wider audience and it’s pleasing that he’s managed to get his songs performed by bigger names, including current employer Nanci Griffith, whose band he’s been playing in. A veteran of UK venues like this, there was plenty of humour, including the apochryphal story of how Nanci Griffith landed Gregson in trouble with the inhabitants of Skelmersdale, one of the less attractive towns in the English North-West….
The encore saw both singers join together for three songs, ending with a rocking version of Hank Snr’s “I heard that lonesome whistle blow” and everyone leaving with a smile on their faces. Biddulph Up In Arms a proving to be on a roll… next up, downstairs at the same venue it’s yours truly with my cajun/zydeco/swamp’n’roll performing hat on….
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