Sometimes in life you are rewarded for the hundreds of gigs you’ve attended where the artist/band stand stock still and churn out note perfect versions of their songs. You could be anyone, they could be anyone too.
But it doesn’t have to be that way folks. No, you can ‘own the room’ as Ken Stringfellow does this fine summer’s evening. A smallish but clearly devoted crowd hang round the piano, keyboard, amp and guitar – yes, Ken has not bothered with the stage and has set up within the floor space where the audience should be. It’s a sign of what is to come. He ambles on and almost straight away he has us in the palm of his hand. He is funny, self-deprecating and charming. Heck, he even pops out to get a chair for a woman who had sat on the floor.
The set is drawn mainly from the fantastic new album Danzig In The Moonlight and mainly handled through the keyboard and piano…the latter used sparingly: “It’s beautiful to have a piano in a venue but it’s not in tune…hey, we’ll see what’s what”. He some help – Emma Pollok pops along to add some vocals to a couple of tracks, and she lights up a truly wonderful version of ‘Doesn’t It Remind You Of Something?’ which is a timeless country duet just waiting to be discovered by a wider audience. The other song she plays on is Big Star’s ‘Thirteen’ which he of course has played many times as he took the role of ‘Chris Bell’ in the reformed Big Star.
He also gets Rachael Sermanni to add some harmonica and vocals to ‘110 or 220v’ and she’s great…the harmonica lending a world weary tone to a bittersweet tale of someone wising up to reality, yet fighting back by trusting optimism.
A highlight is when he starts a beautiful melody on guitar and as ears strain to pick out the song we realise he’s singing ‘OCD guy has noticed, two CDs are squint on the merch table…OCD can’t now focus…’ He then moves to merch table and straightens the CDs!
Highlights are the two album highlights: ‘Superwise’ and ‘History Buffs’, and a stunning version of ‘Here’s To The Future’ from 2006’s Touched album. He ends the evening with a splendid AOR piano take on The Five Stairsteps’ ‘Ooh Child’ a song his band The Posies covered in all its original pop glory.
My gig companion knew not a single track before attending and was completely won over…and those leaving the venue all had grins as bright as the sun had been earlier in the day. I would suggest a listen to the new album…you won’t regret it.