Tuesday, 9 December 2014

When the cider starts flowing

I’d quietly started sipping the apple juice in a boogaloo bar on the other side of the street – I guess they were still putting out the chairs in The Red Hedgehog – because I was uptown in Highgate to see the ever wonderful Euros Childs ‘in concert’.  A sudden blast to the end of 2014 – a new long player (well 32 minutes or so) from the man himself and a series of dates to accompany the release of Eillaaig. 

The Boogaloo bar was once the haunt of Shane MacGowan and his brand of roogie boogie - his picture was on the wall – he was by the fire – he wasn’t on fire – I guess that would happen though – accidentally set himself alight – on an any given night.

The cider was strong in there. And when the cider starts flowing there’s only once place we’re going. To see Euros Childs in an intimate venue across the road.

The cider was flowing there too. All bottles from off licences sold at twice the price for a good cause. In fact a heady mix of strong cider and the eternal waft of a lit joss stick greeted my arrival to The Red Hedgehog. For some reason I chose a seat which pretty much meant I was looking at Euros’ back for most of the night. Just like the poster advertising the tour.

It would have felt a little odd to be seated right in front of him. You know Mark Chapman like.

Now - you know my unwavering bias for Euros Childs. So this review of sorts will simple tell you to go see him – buy his new album – and ask him to make another one – so we can all do this again next year.  So here goes – as I said the cider was stronger than me – I hope to recall the night the best I can.

The support act for tonight was Euros Childs – so it was two sets for the price of one. Never knowingly undersold is Euros. So the first set was the new record by. An odyssey (and oracle) of piano and words – like watercolour brushes dipped in water – trails and swirls. The new album -  Eillaaig – which I presumed was welsh – well he’s from another land this man – is actually a made up word – there is no translation there is only it’s fixedness to this album. It doesn’t translate to any world language – but then again Euros seems otherworldly at times – all angles and twitches – spreading utter joy wherever he lands.

This album is other worldly.

The album has this Satie/ repetitive/ Brian Wilson/ Mozart triads (that’s not a gang – I’m talking about the notes) discordant subtlety throughout it – mixed with sentiment and feeling. Of walks and old buildings – wood and smoke – it kind of conjures up the air – you feel like you’re outside when you’re listening on the inside. The piano is taut – crisp like winter mornings – but slowly filling with warmth as your cheeks begin to glow in icy sunshine.  Simple bass notes – holding the ethereal floating top end in place – not letting it drift away.  It’s full of honesty – and reminds me of arriving in halls for ‘singing practice’ dusty floors and piano masters (sorry that makes me sound so public school – it was comprehensive schools in Scunthorpe I’m referencing here – just so you know – I mean it maaaaaaan)

It’s classical in so many ways – possibly conceptual.

The Red Hedgehog was probably the right place to play. It had this awkward honesty about it to – all woollen hats and slight confusion. Euros seated at the far end surrounded by red chairs and candles and general tat – pushed to the back. The majority of the new long player is instrumental – you don’t always needs words. And besides we’d get those in the next half.

Suffice to say – It was great to hear this – without already hearing it first – a bold move on Euros’ part?  Not really – I think his audience – and it’s always growing – this night was sold out after all – I think his audience can take the risk too. You are always pleasantly surprised/ satisfied by his music making and I’ve been playing the album every morning since hearing it that first time.

It is my winter warmer.

So with the album played and hands clapped – Euros departed in readiness for the second set. It was costume changes and roadies testing equipment whilst we waited.

It wasn’t. It was an empty piano and more joss sticks. 

I don’t think there was a costume change – but there was an ‘entrance’. Appearing from the back to rapturous applause Euros was back (and of course my view was his back) to play some more – to put the soul in the rock and roll (or was that Denim?) This wonderful set mixed the old and the new – with his usual humourous insight and meandering tales we are accustomed to as part of the Euros audience – as I said there’s a gentleness to this star performer – that comes out in a humble manner – but he does make me laugh. He could do an ‘in conversation with…’ evening and it would be just as fun. Ok – well nearly as – because when Euros breaks into Ursula’s Crow (can you break into Ursula’s Crow – he’s not Elton John milking the masses?) you remember that it’s the songs that make you sing and grin.

He has that touch – light and airy meets well timed delivery. With a run through of some of the wonders of Situation Comedy (Second Home Blues and Tete-et-Tete)  and Summer Special (That’s Better ) and the majestic Ends (the Open Window, Spin that girl around, Parent’s Place – you can find how that song gets me elsewhere in my writing about Euros) And a thankful  outing for Bread ( I don’t mean we stopped and popped to Gregg’s) all baroque and crust – one day Jonny will release a second album – Euros said so – it might be the Joe Meek one.  There was How Do you Do from Son of Euros, Dust from the Cousins album and a wonderful version of Pretty Ballerina by The Left Banke that nearly rounded off the night. Euros should do a covers album at some point. You know it would be beautiful.  Euros even waited for a member of the audience to get back from the toilet. Well that was me – I told you about all this flowing cider and where it leads. And besides there was only one toilet – the other was screened off – for the rock stars I guess – or possibly because of the plumbing.

Euros finished off the night’s proceedings with a glorious uproarious Poodle Rockin’ finale. And that was it. Huge applause and shuffled chairs. Out into the bracing night air with a (miracle) grin and a wide eyed stare.

I don’t think I can make the later London shows – it feels treacherous – but there are young ones to look after and presents to buy and wrap and turkeys to feed and crackers to stuff or something. You never know – I just might find myself there.

An evening with Euros is somewhat irresistible.

Buy his album.  Buy all his albums. You even get a note from the National Elf himself. And elves like to make us happy at Christmas (or summat like that) 

I haven't got a video of the night - so here's a link to Euros' sound cloud site: 

And a lovely version of The Open Window