Dave Griffiths Band, Asha Zee, Harper & Edwards 8.10.20 Poole Lighthouse
This week viral doom seemed to be spreading amid statistical confusion and irresponsible journalism. My continued scratching around for some sort of modified gig going normality hasn’t been unearthing much – usual local and regional gig guide compilers silenced – even a few 2021 cancellations have started and obscure socially distanced options for this year scrubbed.
I was pleased to see Squeeze about to start giving it a go with the first gig at London’s cavernous O2 advertised and old favourites of mine Kirk Brandon (Theatre of Hate/ Spear of Destiny) and Pauline Murray (Penetration) lining up a few special small gigs. I’ve bought a few tickets for some unusual gigs in venues I haven’t been to but who knows if they will go ahead. Southampton’s 1865 seems to be giving it a go with a few things, local bands mainly, and I was even attracted by the novelty of a female Italian blues guitarist – that was postponed before I dived in. Meanwhile the 2021 calendar fills with postponements and hopes.
Lucky then that I was able to rethink my prior casual dismissal of October’s Live and Unheard, book a ticket on-line on the day and get out…reasonably safely. I had my November one booked already having enjoyed the first post-Lockdown night, and two pre-Covid era nights have made these events appealing. Very fortunate to have the Poole Lighthouse venue so near. Use it or lose it!
Live and Unheard in the Lighthouse Theatre
September’s showcase for artists in the making, or more established gigers airing their own material, was in their outside amphitheatre as The Lighthouse arts centre tested the Covid water. For October’s we are inside The Theatre – not the usual Sherling Studio, and not the very big concert hall – usual ‘home ground’ for the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra – but the theatre in between.
This steeply banked cosy auditorium seats 669 people usually, and has a big stage that can accommodate World renown ballet companies and full-on musical sets. Plenty of room then for some socially distanced performing and a safe setting up for three acts.
With usual limits around 100 – Sherling Studio capacity stated as 130 – the Live and Unheard move to the bigger theatre allows for virus dodging spacing. Tickets only sold for alternate rows and pairs of seats have two free seats between them. At first naturally this spacing looks odd but with house lights down and atmospheric stage lights on, this oddity is masked, like the audience (until seated when you can reveal yourself). I suppose celebrities might find a masked night out quite appealing and hassle free, but no sign of Harry Redknapp and friends under the soft lights as masks come off. It’s bad enough recognising people out of context anyway so don’t know about you but I find I’m staring at faces unnaturally.
This set up is a fantastic opportunity for new bands. I’m not sure how it works out with running costs with the bigger venue of course and it maybe totally unsustainable. Progress though for now.
The great thing about seeing a new act at Live and Unheard is that, whichever of the Lighthouse settings I’ve been to, the sound and lighting is so good compared to many of the alternatives: corners of pubs or soulless community halls. Also the audience focuses on the artists and the sound, without distracting chit chat and shouts to get the drinks in. I should add there is ample opportunity to get your drinks in, and bring them into the theatre. (Tonight’s seated service in the main bar pre-show and in the changeovers was wonderfully efficient, which I slightly regretted next day.)
So to tonight’s bands. I don’t pretend to review their music in any detail but review the overall experience and point out or remind as to what is out there …even now.
Harper & Edwards
A folk/rock duo starting with acoustic guitar and fiddle, switching to two acoustic guitars for some songs.
There are some YouTube clips which I see have been uploaded by Chinnersrocks to help visualise their enjoyable performance.
I’d love to hear a Bob Dylan cover with these vocals – I can hear the necessary occasional gravel and at times this reminds me of singer songwriter Ben Mills, who himself can sound distinctly Rod Stewart.
I am yet to conclude which is Harper and which is Edwards in this local duo, this despite a bit of Googling which initially led me to a similarly named tiling firm in East Molesey and a dead composer.
I would certainly go and see them again if playing locally and their Facebook page looks the best way to keep up to date on that.
A relaxing and pleasing set with song called Old Harry Rocks to finish was a notable one – incorporating the pirate tale made infamous by its association with the Purbeck coastal landform.
I was pretty astonished by this performance. I would be amazed if we do not see Asha boom sometime. Pop with some soul and of broad appeal surely. Of course it’s impossible to know – so much competiton and so many impatient and uninquisitive potential audiences out there…but what an enjoyable performance.
Asha is 14 years old. The band playing with her tonight are young teenagers, oldest being 15, with a few masked dancers thrown in. This opportunity, is gratefully seized by them. My expectations were minimal and I was slightly hesitant in coming thinking I might be faced with nothing more than a school band and a panto audience. How very wrong and assumptive could I have been.
Have a listen to Be Strong if you’re a Spotify listener and you will get what I mean.
Dating for Heartbreak is one of her songs you can find here on Asha’s website and this was performed with her vocals and piano playing centre stage. This was apparently Asha’s first theatre performance and what a massive achievement that is. Watch this space eh. Good luck.
Dave Griffiths Band
Last up tonight is the Dave Griffiths band. Live but perhaps not as Unheard as tonight’s other acts, Bournemouth born Dave Griffiths has played in other ventures with recordings going back to 2013 from what I can see.
The current band plays a selection of original rock songs, up the soft to middle end of the rock scale. Easy going and delivered with unflustered professionalism by experienced musicians.
I don’t doubt Dave Griffiths could blast out a good Bruce Springsteen song and just maybe allowing one cover would be a welcome concession.
This is such a good way to get a look at original material and all three acts tonight brightened the Covid cloud…some normality back to the stage of the Lighthouse Theatre.
All good stuff and another significant step for another Lockdown ravaged venue. Tickets already bagged for November’s Live and Unheard.
(Big thank you to organiser, performer and producer Matt Black for continuing to bring these Live and Unheard sessions to fruition. Rock on.)