IAIN MATTHEWS with ANDY ROBERTS – Live At The Bonnington Theatre (Angel Air SJPCD642)

Live At The Bonnington TheatreIain Matthews and Andy Roberts hadn’t seen each other for several years when, so the story goes, they bumped into each other in a Brighton pub. The following night they played a “let’s do the show right here in the barn” style support set and the old magic was reignited. The following year they recorded Live At The Bonnington Theatre in Nottingham, a set that, it seems, has just resurfaced, sounding as fresh as the day it was taped.

The set opens with ‘A Wailing Goodbye’ from the 1974 album Some Days You Eat The Bear, not a song you might expect but Iain has a huge back catalogue and isn’t afraid to delve liberally into it. He returns to that record later for Danny Whitten’s ‘I Don’t Want To Talk About It’ – “I don’t want you to think we’re playing a Rod Stewart song”. Next is Jules Shear’s ‘On Squirrel Hill’ from another album that wasn’t easy to find when it first appeared. Iain and Andy sing it a cappella and I don’t think it’s ever sounded better.

At this point Iain was between Pure And Crooked and Skeleton Keys and several songs from the latter appear as new – Iain introduces ‘Back Of The Bus’ as a song they hadn’t played together before. ‘The Ties We Break’ is the third track here and ‘God’s Empty Chair’ follows ‘Bus’ giving Andy plenty of material to get on top of. In the midst of these is Mark Germino’s brilliant ‘The Economics Of The Rat And The Snake’ but then they go right back to that first Plainsong album to disinter ‘Yo-Yo Man’.

It’s back to the 70s for ‘Just One Look’ and the record closes with two songs from Pure And Crooked. First there is ‘Mercy Street’ then ‘New Shirt’, now retitled ‘Tonight’ featuring a guest appearance by Ric Sanders. Apart from this, Live At The Bonnington Theatre demonstrates eloquently what can be achieved with just two voices and two acoustic guitars. I’ve suddenly got the urge to line up all my Iain Matthews albums and play them one after the other – that will take a long, long time.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website; http://iainmatthews.nl/

OK – this is a track from a different live album by Iain Matthews and Andy Roberts but it’s a good one. ‘And Me’: