LIVE REVIEW: Paul Smith @ Cluny (24.11.18) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Gary Chaytor

Kathryn Williams is a very endearing, engaging presence. Tonight, she manages to keep a relatively boisterous audience in the palm of her hand. She plays songs from across her divergent twenty year career- her music is plaintive, narrative and striking in it’s direct melancholy. Highlights include Williams’ interpretation of a chapter from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, and a gloriously layered finale. A well received arrow to the heart.

Paul Smith is in fine spirits tonight, showing off his new songs and his mighty fine new band- featuring Nathalie Sterne, Field Music’s Andrew Lowther and Maximo Park’s Tom English. Naturally, the set is heavily weighed on favour of his excellent new record, Diagrams, which is a fantastically direct collection of songs with the erudite lyricism you would expect. The band sashay through the Go-Betweensy John (which sounds like a genuine smash-hit of yesteryear) and explore the tension in more downbeat numbers like Your Orbit and The Beauty Contest. Happily, gems from 2010’s underrated Margins also rear their heads, and are greeted graciously. Amusing, if occasionally meandering, patter aside, it’s a set which is very direct statement. Paul brings down the curtain, alone, with spine-tinglin renditions of Maximo Park numbers Unfamiliar Places and The Night I Lost My Head. It all makes for a life affirming evening with one of the country’s best songwriters.

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