Another quality night of musical entertainment and more, courtesy of the Liverpool Acoustic organisation.

Visibly nervous in front of a full room, support artist Corrie Shelley still had the confidence to open with a Tory bashing a capella number and drew the applause that both delivery and content deserved. This was followed by a fragile and haunting song ‘Ghost Light’ telling of the theatrical traditions of empty theatres, a sad and all too frequent feature of our cultural landscape. Both set the tone and standard for a short but well received set, where memories of industrial injury and a cautionary tale of ill-advised marriage were introduced with poignant humour. Corrie’s interest in local history and mining – reflected in a forthcoming album in the New Year – was expressed, not just in the lyrical content of her set, but also in her surprising, innovative and possibly unique use of a pair of clogs and a metal snap tin (lunch box) as a percussive instrument, accompanying the otherwise unaccompanied telling of the story of a pit-pony’s life. Her final song introduced us to some Lanky dialect to reflect the subject matter of a miner turned Rag and Bone Man.

While the main event introduced two men for whom the word ‘bonhomie’ could have been invented, a quick word is necessary for the presence of Julia Porter – sometimes a catalyst for the humour, occasionally perhaps more cattylyst, but quick to point out that she hadn’t been mentioned in the introduction.

To describe the team as the folk equivalent of total football would not be risking a penalty, they are capable of being adventurous up front, creative in midfield, and as you would expect with Mr Pegg playing the low notes, solid at the back. But it isn’t just the music, as it is seamlessly mixed with the banter, to the extent that one can make you forget about the quality of the other, with all 3 capable of giving as good as they get.

In the first part of the set, the songs resonate with gentle humour and the between song banter works its way into the songs itself, so much so that, for a gentleman of advancing years, one is stuck between a quick visit between or during songs. Despite the gentle and apparently effortless wordplay and humour, there is opportunity for musical fun as well, as the ragging turns to ragtime and Peggy’s smile gets impossibly broader.

As the evening progresses, there is room for introspection, insight and pathos, with consideration of a Belfast upbringing, religious intolerance, family dynamics and the enigmatic but seemingly ever-present Sister Mary Joseph. As might be expected, the inevitable conclusion of this is a Manfred Mann medley, as we are working up to a reminder that Tuesday Night is Always Karaoke.

Still time for a communal version of ‘Walking On Sunday’ with the reappearance of Ms Shelley for a verse and the introduction of Mac Rawlins (who has previous with AJ for this sort of thing) to take another.

A terrific night, where the chemistry between the players is as much a part of the evening as the music – though it has to be said that each of the billed performers are well worth consideration when they go their separate ways to their other projects, AJ solo is a good time guaranteed, and that Fairport Convention can still put out a tune or two. Having admitted from the stage that they had partied until 3 in the morning the night before, there was still time to meet and greet many of the audience as the old friends that many no doubt were. Last seen exiting the venue clutching a bottle of Irish whisky and heading for the hotel, extra time would probably prove interesting!

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