I have reported on CD launch events from a number of venues; the BBC Club, The Convent, even Wigan but none as lush as …well, Lush. On the hottest day of the year in London the air-conditioned Lush Studio Soho was an oasis. It’s a rabbit warren of a building and definitely bigger on the inside than the outside. I don’t know what part of the firm’s business is conducted there but the place was full of shiny happy people who obviously love their jobs. Jackie Oates has a commercial connection with Lush so where better to stage this event.
The performance space is called The Nest and was decorated with roses and flooded with red light. This was after terribly sticky cupcakes featuring roses and apple and hand made cocktails featuring the same ingredients – although a bigger shot of gin wouldn’t have gone amiss – and the roses and apple scent of one of their fragrances.
The album being previewed is called The Joy Of Living. Its title track is the Ewan MacColl song and the number that Jackie closed with. The younger and less embittered members of the audience admitted to tearing up a little at the end. It’s an appropriate title for an album that spans four generations from Jackie’s grandfather who fought with the 51st Highland Division to her daughter, Rosie and her sibling on the way, and encompasses life and death.
Jackie opted to open with ‘Caroline And Her Young Sailor Bold’ which isn’t on the album but its theme of love conquering all is totally relevant. ‘The Last Trip Home’, which came next, was one of Jackie’s father’s favourites and is redolent of the sadness surrounding his death. Then Jackie looked forward with three children’s songs: ‘My Shoes Are Made Of Spanish’, ‘Spring Is Coming Soon’ and ‘Rosy Apple’ – hence the decorative theme. Before we got too misty-eyed she switched to John Lennon’s extraordinary ‘Mother’, perhaps making the point that parenthood isn’t always a bed of roses. Hamish Henderson’s ‘Freedom Come-All-Ye’ for Jackie’s grandfather and ‘Virginny’ learned from her father brought us almost home before ‘The Joy Of Living’.
Jackie stuck to her five-string viola and was accompanied by Jack Rutter on guitar, Indian harmonium (great for drones) and a remarkable looking but wonderful sounding fan fret cittern – hand built, of course. It was a delightful evening which promised a lovely album to come.
Artist’s website: www.jackieoates.co.uk
‘The Joy Of Living’ – live at Cecil Sharp House: