GIG: Nelson Bragg & Friends
DATE: Sunday 23rd September 2012
VENUE: What’s Cookin’, Birkbeck Tavern, 45 Langthorne Rd, Leyton
COST: hat passed round
OUR VERDICT:Jingle Jangle Guitar Porn


This is not strictly a MintyandTheBeeb review as Minty had to be in the Emerald Isle with work and missed this gig, so this was The Beeb flying solo.

Nelson Bragg
Nelson Bragg, musician extraordinaire was in town as part of The Beach Boys band on their 50th Anniversary tour, taking a bit of time out to promote his recently released second solo album, “We Get What We Want”. His friends for tonight were an all-star cast, and brilliant musicians themselves: Scott Bennett, Probyn Gregory, Duncan Maitland, Paul Steel and Tony Poole.

Paul Steel with Nelson and Probyn

Paul Steel, behind the keyboard, kicked off with “Worst Day” from his first album. The rest of his set was his chance to share with us some of his new material, and the audience were very appreciative of that. 

Then the audience were totally hushed during a remarkable rendition of “Surf’s Up” for which the rest of the gang joined him. Totally unrehearsed, with they guys asking each other just who would do what, we ended up with Scott on his portable glockenspiel and Probyn imitating the trumpet, this was just jaw dropping stuff.

At the end of it, the band were all looking at each other and laughing, almost as if they couldn't believe how well it had worked.

Next up, Duncan Maitland, all the way over from Ireland for the night. Following that performance of “Surf’s Up” there was no pressure on him! But he was up for the challenge and his set was brilliant. Just acoustic guitar, his smooth vocals and up-beat, melodic songs blending together which provoked a really enthusiastic response from the audience. After giving us a couple of songs from his latest album “Lullabies For the 21st Century”, we were treated to a brilliant version of Bowie’s “Kooks," dedicated to his baby son, before he finished his set with a song about mass murderers! Light and shade, eh?

Probyn Gregory took to the stage next and the following twenty minutes or so were filled with some lovely (and at times really funny) ditties. The opportunity to see Probyn perform solo is a once in a blue moon kinda thing, as he is usually the talented multi-instrumentalist supporting numerous bands and rarely takes the solo limelight. He finds the most obscure things to write about, such as bus drivers and 55 gallon drums, and he really delighted us all. He has lots of songs hidden up his sleeve, and it will be great when they're available for everyone else to enjoy.

Scott Bennett
On the bill next was Scott Bennett, the man who co-wrote, arranged and sang “Midnight’s Another Day” a really delightful song that won the hearts of Brian Wilson’s fans during “That Lucky Old Sun” tour. With just an acoustic guitar he gave us a couple of songs which included some material soon to be released through his Chicago band, Shiney. Then taking up a seat behind the keyboard he sang a song dedicated to his wife, the song aptly called “Perfection” before rounding off his set with another song from his solo catalogue, released as The Dotted Line, called “Pearls”. His voice has a rough edge to it which suits the songs he sings. He sounded terrific even if he was a bit tired from travelling.

Scott Bennett

The stage was then filled as everyone joined to support a version of “Sail On Sailor” which disintegrated a bit through the middle as words were forgotten but the audience forgave that and the applause at the end was rapturous.

Hey, hey, the Gang's all here

Nelson with Tony and Duncan
Nelson Bragg stepped into the spotlight along with Tony Poole, Duncan and Probyn and with a twelve string guitar he kicked off his set and we were spoiled with “Forever Days”. It sounded wonderful. Then we were treated to some of the songs from his new album “We Get What We Want”, starting with a brilliant rendition of “She Used To Love Me” and then a real treat was the cover of the Brian Wilson song,  “Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long”.  With Scott accompanying on glockenspiel, and a few sleighbells thrown in, this sounded just perfect.

Nelson with Tony, Probyn and Duncan

Tony Poole
The finale was a Tony Poole set and with his lovely Rickenbaker opened up with his old band Starry Eyed and Laughing's signature Dylan song, "Chimes Of Freedom."
There was a great deal of jingly jangly strings filling a set of mostly Dylan/Byrds songs, accompanied by most of the musicians who played throughout the night.
The audience helped finish the night by joining the band in a rousing sing-a-long of "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere."

Everyone played their part tonight, but kudo's have to go to the American trio who had only flown in a few hours before the gig. They must have been knackered, but thankfully for us the adrenalin kicked in for them.

Well done to John Etherington too, who put in a lot of work helping to put this gig together.

What a memorable night. Nelson can feel rightfully proud when he looks back on his first solo headlining gig in the UK.

The Beeb with Probyn and Duncan after the show

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