You don’t have to have been around the Tyneside music scene for long to realise that both Nev Clay and St James Infirmary are both ludicrously talented and ludicrously overlooked – taken for granted even. They’ve notched up the best part of 50 years of playing between them, and hundreds of gigs (including a few together) and are both spoken of in hushed tones by the likes of Richard Dawson, Cath & Phil Tyler and Kathryn Williams. The next of their gigs sees them both set to play Prohibition Cabaret Bar on Thursday 12th January.
Nev Clay trades in gentle, poignant, insightful acoustic music that he’d probably hesitate to call folk (although his love for metal shines through in the occasional bursts of shredding). Unassuming and modest to a fault, nonetheless his honesty and his ability to throw a spotlight on small moments of sadness or delight get you right in the feels. The man is a master.
St James Infirmary is primarily Gary Lang, the ‘Ashington Brian Wilson’ (although depending on the night, he could equally be the Ashington Steven O’Malley, the Ashington Klaus Wunderlich or the Ashington Father Yod). A veritable cottage industry, he self-releases a bewildering stream of music from his secret bunker at Mario’s Recording Services: everything from lush electro-pop to psychedelic jams, neighbour-sampling doom to baroque covers of Richard Dawson songs. It’s fair to say you never know what to expect from an SJI gig except something to remember.
So this Tyneside titan, double-header, no-holds-barred, (no)-grudge match seems pretty unmissable, especially since all proceeds are being donated to the mental health charity MIND – particularly appropriate since both artists have had long careers in that field.