Dave Alvin at The Cluny, Newcastle upon Tyne
On Friday 13th April 2012 I took advantage of the rare opportunity to enjoy Dave Alvin & The Guilty Ones at The Cluny, a small music venue on the outskirts of Newcastle upon Tyne. I say a rare opportunity because Alvin is an infrequent visitor to these shores (his last visit was six years ago) and by his own admission he has never before performed in Newcastle.
Our evening started in the Cumberland in Byker with a couple of pints of Dognobbler, a Wylam ale we had discovered in the Lion & Lamb in Horsley while walking between Wylam and Prudhoe a couple of weeks ago.
Then we moved on to the Cluny bar where all of the guest ales had a Titanic theme to commemorate the sinking 100 years ago. As we sampled ‘Maiden Voyage’ there were cracks along the lines of “I could sink a few of these” and “This is going down well.” Time, we thought to show our tickets and move through to the venue.e we had discovered in the Lion & Lamb in Horsley while walking between Wylam and Prudhoe a couple of weeks ago.
We were in time to catch the local rockabilly support act, The Sour Mash Trio. A good energetic performance from them but rockabilly is not really my thing so on to the main event. Dave Alvin formed The Blasters with his elder brother Phil in 1979 however after five albums he left The Blasters and joined X as lead guitarist. The first album under his own name was released in 1987 and he has been releasing albums regularly ever since as well as establishing a great reputation for live performance.
With Alvin having been backed in the past by The Guilty Men and The Guilty Women, the Newcastle crowd were entertained by The Guilty Ones consisting of a very fine guitarist whose name unfortunately I don’t know, Lou Whitney on Fender bass and Guilty Woman, Lisa Pankratz on drums. Among the songs performed were ‘Harlan County Line’, ‘Johnny Ace Is Dead’ and ‘Every Night About This Time’. The band also gave us a great version of ‘Long White Cadillac’ a Blasters song made famous by Dwight Yoakam and a song called ‘Black Rose of Texas’ which is about and dedicated to Amy Farris a former member of The Guilty Women who committed suicide in 2009.
Mixing shuffling blues, alt country Americana and stomping rockers, the band thrilled the already enthusiastic crowd who gave a great ovation to Lisa Pankratz for her drum solo. Not being a fan of drum solos, I was about to head to the bar but was restrained by one of my mates. I’m glad I stuck it out as the solo was superb and lasted only about two minutes. That’s the way drum solos should be!
Then I consider how much I have paid to see some acts, the 15 quid (that’s 15 English pounds) was an absolute bargain to witness such talent. From the reaction of the crowd, my feelings were shared. I hope Mr Alvin will not leave it too long before his next visit.