Thursday, 6 June 2019

Joe Innes, We Are All Fossils, Simeon Hammond Dallas



The Harrison
Travelled to The Harrison in King’s Cross where we saw Benedict Benjamin* in 2017, to check out a band that headlined then but who we didn’t like at the time, Joe Innes and the Cavalcade, because I try one song, Fables, on Spotify and love it. Sometimes you’re just not in the right place or time to appreciate a piece of music but never say never as one day you may be ready. Suddenly it clicks, you’ve got it, instant and intense. More on Fables, possibly my favourite song so far this year, here. And who knows – perhaps in some distant future I’ll come to appreciate drill or even Rufus Wainwright. 

* This is how we’ve been discovering new music of late. We go to see one act then prefer the one we didn’t come to see so found Benedict Benjamin (Had What You Had, My Feet Have No Need for the Ground) when he played back-up to Mandolin Orange at the Borderline. Then went to see him at the Courtyard when he supported Ciaran Lavery. I’ve never been to a gig before where I’ve loved every single song. Try Train, Tell Them All, Wicked Teeth.

Joe Innes
The only problem is that Fables is five years old and we didn’t like the newer numbers as much. The Folkroom is in the basement of the pub and the 'Folkroom Fortnightly' gig is free but you are encouraged to contribute, buy a cd or both. Chances are you will want to anyway. The pub is rammed with suits, office staff blowing off steam, everybody shouting to be heard over everyone else. The din is appalling. We’d meant to eat there as we did before but all the tables are taken so had to order soup and sit outside. It’s February and I'm freezing. We’re both wondering why we do this to ourselves, without saying so, when we could be in our nice warm house watching old episodes of Silent Witness on UKTVPlay. The soup is warming and after this we go down to the Folkroom. It’s a cute set-up, with a cosy ambience, fairy lights, etc. 

Simeon Hammond Dallas
The first act is Simeon Hammond Dallas. Her record company asked her to change her name as they thought it was too long. She didn’t, stuck by her principles, and in fact made it longer, and was duly dumped. Everyone here commends her for this with some elderly gents going ‘Oh how dare they ask you to change your name?’ etc. And it’s paid off as she now has a new album out and a launch party in April. The single is Wild Woman which I don’t like as much as Black Dog. A lot of her songs concern bad break-ups or bad boyfriends. It occurs to me that she’s had possibly twice the number of relationships I’ve had and is probably half my age so I’m a little jealous. Great voice. She cheers us up. Catch her busking by the London Eye some time.


We Are All Fossils
Halfway through the first song of the second act, We Are All Fossils (Jakob Deist Oelofse according to the cd sleeve), with Marc Halls, we know why we do it, because music is so amazing. The combination of the guy’s voices is so beautiful it almost has me in tears. Looking them up on YouTube later I love Aether and Honey Drop. The latter reminds me of the vocal harmonies of early Fleet Foxes (when they were still playing student unions) and before them the Eagles. I buy a copy of the album, The Optimist. Check out title track, The West, and the lovely new single The Merry Go Round is available  to download (at time of writing) at https://weareallfossils.com/.

Joe Innes and the Cavalcade
Then it’s time for Joe. He starts alone, playing new songs that I greatly prefer to the in-between songs I heard on the internet.  These tackle something a number of singer-songwriters tend to focus on at one time or another, stopping music and trying something else (occupational hazard is the term I'm searching for). Whether it's facetious or not, Joe claims to have tried skateboarding. Anyway, the usual upshot is the other thing is not a success or not as fulfilling or simply the wrong thing so here they are on stage once more which is lucky for us. I know the industry is hard and have written at length on how great talents lie undiscovered, some of them playing to smaller and smaller audiences when by rights they should have the world at their feet. You know who I mean: the Jackie Levens and Grant Harts of this world, now sadly lost to us. But what's important is that they kept producing music to the very end. If that's what you do, it's what you do. Grant always told me that acclaim didn't matter to him. And it was just as well. Anyway I have written on this elsewhere.

The Cavalcade* join him after a couple of songs. I really meant to pick up the setlist after but forgot. What surprises me is that people leave before and during his set. What’s wrong with them? It’s baffling. Some tracks we know from Spotify like Moscow and Half Gone, both slightly bitter and lovely, the latter containing my second favourite lines from a song at the moment:
You buy everything you break with me/I just put it on the tab),* oh and: You'd make a terrible nurse/It's like you're ripping off a plaster/So slow that it hurts and even an allusion, possibly accidental, to one of my Dad's favourite Pink Floyd songs.
*Apologies for not knowing the names of the members of the Cavalcade. They deserve a mention here as they're fantastic, so please supply if you know.
*All-time favourite is: Men looked like Jesus in crushed velvet flares (The Osmonds by Denim).

That band that Brian Wilson had ...
There’s some stage banter about the latter (and later a bit of stage banter about stage banter), that Joe has told a Cavalcader the way to remember the intro is by thinking of the late Tom Petty’s Free Fallin' and it is rather similar. They joke around and start playing Free Fallin'. My only criticism is that he doesn’t tell us what the songs are called. The guy behind us requests Fables but not loudly enough and I understand why – it’s hard for a member of the audience to call attention to themselves and then be ignored so we do that very English thing of saying something, hoping it’ll be heard but not putting ourselves out there in case we look like idiots. I don’t know. Perhaps if he’d called louder and we had all joined in … But it’s almost as if the band had already decided to pack up; I hope this isn’t because they’re demoralised by people leaving. The sound that Joe and the Cavalcade make together is a sort of ragged perfection. Brilliant. Also recommend Sweetheart Revolution 1 that I now sometimes wake up singing. And the only song I liked the first time we saw them, God Only Knows I Tried (such a pretty intro, weirdly when I type 'Joe Innes God' into YouTube, it suggests 'of war' as the next words) with its Brian Wilson/Beach Boys reference, from the album: Brian, I'm a Genius Too

I have to applaud The Harrison and Matt (Glover?) the man who hosts the Folkroom for organising these brilliant fortnightly shows. Thank you all for continually reaffirming my faith in music.

Anyway, any changes/mistakes in the blog, people, let me know. I hope to publish this simultaneously (doesn't this sound grand? 'publish simultaneously') with a short appreciation of the song, Fables, which you can find at: secretsquirrelshorts.blogspot.com.

You can find a blog on Benedict Benjamin here