Naybors here with semi-vacuous right-up on recent Stu Anthony and friends via Yorkshire House, Lancaster Friday 13th November 2009.
Since this place is increasingly resembling an add roll for (some) organisations who can afford to advertise elsewhere (!that’s right!)
Naybors felt duty bound to shat out a brief interjectum …
Stu Anthony is becoming increasing known the country over for both his passionate acoustica and scholastic championing of long dead guitar spindler Nick Drake.
I heard his first album in a squat best side of Skerton. No lie.
A friend of mine was laid up from being robbed and beat on in the street. We sat together for a long time one morning trying to think of ways we could wheedle emergency funds from the Jobcentreplus. At some point or other my head musta been facing the floor. Amongst the chance junk and ameneities that tend to litter a makeshift living room, I found myself gazing down at a miniature Stuart Anthony, looking resplendant in black and white. The Colourful Truth – for those who mighta missed out, came complete with jewel CD case portraits of the man himself looking handsome and tussled. Kinda like a Jim Morrison what lived, and probably didn’t eat so much hog.
The truth itself is probably quite colourful. Never having looked for it I wouldn’t be the one to ask. I didn’t go looking for Stuart either, but I I caught a coupla of his performances around that time. From the outset I figured him a solid performer, experienced. One time I heard him give this wild eyed kid some advice about inviting the audience in. You gotta convince them (the audience), he tells him, that they wouldn’t want to be any where else in the world than with you at that moment. It worked wonders on me. Figured this guy must be the REAL DEAL. Eye on a bigger prize than mine (‘Best Kisser’ – Blackburn & Darwen Council 1999). Nice too to see him offering tutelage to up and coming performers. Whether they took it on board is anyone’s guess. Fool them if they didn’t. Stuart seemed to be making a stone go of walking his own talk.
Anyone with any misgivings about an artist declaring himself ‘the one you have been waiting for’ could do worse than to visit Stuart’s webspace http://www.myspace.com/stuartanthony. One glance gives you a fair introduction to his declared interests, influences; half a dozen of his songs and also to a range of coverage in the printed press. Acoustic, for example recently featured a revealing portrait of the man as writer/performer (www.acousticmagazine.com). There’s also the Drake propaganda, which any seasoned reader can’t avoid, and I guess shouldn’t if they’re looking to meet Stuart in his own sphere of reference?
Not long after the first self release, Stuart began work with producer and Pale Fragments auteur Paul Walmsley (www.myspace.com/thebiglouisrecordingcompany). Together they cooked up a follow up to The Colourful Truth, House of Sun – which is what we’re here to see tonight: performed from Start to Finish, instrumental interludes abound, with full band accompaniment; supporting slots from the venerable Harvey Lord and Mikey Kenny respectively and the Low Countries/Exisetence of Harvey Lord art-bod, events organiser and general banjo twanging multi-talent that is Wes Martin on compere.
Since I promised to live fast and expire on the page, let’s not linger …
Stuart and company gave a remarkable performance of his record.
Warm, soothing tones and more tentative, endearing stage banter than you’re likely to get at an average Stuart Anthony concert (I’m just clowning, be assured).
There’s plenty of guitars on stage tonight, and more tunings (think more than Homemade Lemonade but less than Sonic Youth) than I reckoned on. Oscar Harmer (bass) provides seamless upright punctuation, there’s sparse, snappy percussion (but maybies not enough low end for this guy?) and fleshy key tinkering. Mikey brings an unmistakable fiddle to the album’s title track and the rugged, much love’d Harvey Lord gleams in a coupla slide pieces. It’s a leg stretch rolling trip and I could get wholly on it. Easing down the big road with Stuart Anthony. Seems I wasn’t alone neither – with a respectful audience thrown in and diamond sound from Kev Baxter, the ambiance combined was pretty right on.
Across the ten tracks performed tonight, themes traverse longing and desire but not without some running sense of resolve? I don’t know where Stuart’s been, but much of House of Sun seemed to offer me a private, reflective and kinda assured place to step into. Reviewing the record earlier this year, Kev McVeigh suggested – maybe fairly, that Stuart wears his influences on sleeve, but when he leans in to open the first song of the night, ‘Legacy’, the man seems to be carving out a space of his own.
Full on props then to Stuart for going out on a limb and risking himself for the extended play. No easy feat when you weigh it in. I coulda shoulda figured it premature – an artist performing their newest latest wares complete and unabridged. Guess it coulda been inflated, pompous? Instead it felt kinda gracious, endearing. A quaint success (quote requests to http://www.everybody-needs-good-naybors-dot-org.org)
Thanks for inviting me in Stuart.
Lancaster, November 2009.