Slaid Cleaves / Diana Jones – The Swan, Leek 17th October 2009
Leek is a fairly prosperous market town in the Staffordshire Moorlands in the middle of England, on the edge of the Peak District – thanks to local folk/roots club “Biddulph Up In Arms” who’d moved their operations a few miles out of their regular orbit, Leek became, for one night only, the place to be for UK Americana/roots fans. Both artistes had been touring the UK separately, but Diana was added to the Slaid Cleaves bill as a last minute bonus as she had a spare day in her schedule at the end of her tour, before flying off to play The Town Hall in New York; somewhat of a contrast!
First up was Diana Jones, fresh from her TV appearance on Jools Hollands’ prestigious “Later” TV show, telling a story about how she nearly missed her cue on that show. Hopefully it’ll bring her even more attention as her soulful brand of Appalachian roots, old time fiery gospel and thoughtful picking wooed the audience into hushed submission. It’s no wonder the likes of Joan Baez are picking up on her songs.
Slaid looked a little physically off-colour, if truth be told, but put on a lively performance, ably augmented by the fine guitar playing of Michael O’Connor – one of the most polite and pleasant people I’ve met for a long time, I must say. Highlights were the yodelling Don Walser cover and the usual suspects of “One Good Year” and “Lydia”. Those classics aside, the new material stands up well and deserves far more recognition than they seem to have got so far. Somebody more famous record a Slaid cover and make the man some money! Taylor Swift, where are you when we need you?!