JEZ LOWE – Croydon Folk Club, Croydon, Surrey (09.07.12)

Expectations are high…they always are for a gig at Croydon Folk Club particularly when this week’s guest is the truly stellar (at least in ‘folk’ terms) Northern star Jez Lowe. Even before you enter the club room there is excited talk of what might form the basis of his set-list tonight. With a bit of luck there’ll be a mixture of old and new songs…whatever, we’re all agreed it’s bound to be a ‘good’ night. Starting proceedings, host Les Elvin engages the audience with Bob Dylan’s “One Too Many Mornings” and chorally warms them up in preparation for the main ‘act’. Opening with an engaging new song “Will Of The People” his off the cuff reference to outlaws including Billy The Kid, Robin Hood and…Boris Johnson are met with a knowing, cynical derision and then it’s straight into “A Small Coal Song” dedicated amusingly to all those mines that Meryl Streep closed down. For those of us that have attended performances by Lowe before it’s this gentle banter and wish to ‘connect’ with everyone that makes us surrender easily to his North-East charms and the torrent (quite appropriate for the start of the great British Summer) of new material including “The Ex-Pitman’s Potholing Pub Quiz Team” and “Simian Son” (which I’d advise against trying in Hartlepool!) are met with a stamp of approval from an ever eager public.

I’m all too aware that with such a prodigious turn-around of songs you’d expect at least one ‘duff’ number to slip through the net but trust me, if there was an award for ‘unblemished’ song-writing ability Jez would receive it. Engaging your audience with wisdom and wit has always been his raison detre and I can assure you that none of it was lost on tonight’s crowd who unashamedly joined in at every possible opportunity. If you are a regular ‘folk club’ attendee or just starting out on a (sorry about the cliché) journey of discovery I couldn’t suggest a better introduction to the scene and surely his OBE won’t be long in coming? For those that need any persuading check out the above You Tube video and see what you’re missing. By the way a special mention must go to New Zealand based singer-songwriter and performance poet Martin Curtis who provided a brief but very enjoyable set and will hopefully be offered a return booking in the future.

PETE FYFE

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Artist’s website: www.jezlowe.com