REVIEW: Johnny Flynn & Sussex Wit, The Anson Rooms, 4/5, by Keith Clark
THREE young artists creating quite a buzz on the nu-folk scene came together for this first gig in the refurbished venue.
First up was Cosmo Sheldrake with a pile of electronic gizmos. He used samples of sounds as diverse as Welsh slate, a fly, pygmy singers and a lump of meat to build up layers of music. The result was quite remarkable, but there was too much emphasis on complex sounds.
Marika Hackman had a lovely voice but her songs were dark and downbeat and her performance a little lacklustre. She said she had been told to smile more on stage – it might have helped.
Headliner Johnny Flynn, accompanied by his excellent five-piece Sussex Wit, is a singer-songwriter, a poet, a Shakespearean actor of some note and a fine musician who showed himself at home on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, mariachi-style trumpet and banjo. There were numerous new songs – notably Murmuration, Bottom Of The Sea Blues and Country Mile. But most of the set was devoted to older, familiar songs. Each of these – especially The Water and The Wrote And The Writ – was greeted by a big cheer from the crowd,
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Brown Trout Blues showed Johnny had been listening to old-style American country. And there was a Peruvian chicha vibe to Fol-de-Rol, while Howl really rocked out.
Good though his melodies are, his lyrics sometimes got dangerous close to being trite. And neither he nor the band showed much personality on stage. But that did not matter to his legion of enthusiastic fans.