LIVE REVIEW: Shipcote & Friends With Aurora Strings, Brick @ The Cluny 2, Newcastle (01.03.24) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Shipcote & Friends with Aurora Strings by Lee Fisher

It’s been a while since I had a chance to catch Brick live and it was worth the wait. The musical/life partner combo of Bridie Jackson and Nick Pierce works beautifully – Nick’s mellifluous violin, Bridie’s guitar, alternating keyboards and of course Bridie’s always remarkable voice. It’s a wonderful thing, that voice, pure but with power in reserve, never strident, full of all the feels. Someone described Brick as ‘joy adjacent’, which seems appropriate. Bonus points for the cruise ship jackets too. It’s all in the details.

Let’s not dwell on all the reasons why Graham ‘Shipcote/Shippy’ Anderson is a Newcastle institution and dwell instead on his venerable and always mutating Shipcote & Friends band. An outfit of endless melody and easy charm whose early doors set preceded the Brick slot. But the focus was on the later set, where Shippy and fine guitarist Bry were joined by local string quartet Aurora Strings for a short and intimate selection of songs that both promoted a forthcoming EP (cunningly titled Shipcote With Strings) and fulfilled a long-held ambition of Shippy’s to play with a string backing.

It worked like a dream, Shippy’s gentle swinging songs were augmented but not overpowered by the backing that gave the whole thing a laidback Hot Club Of Paris feel. There was a lot of loss in these songs, and mentions of Shippy’s mum and his friend Sticks, and even a song lamenting Amy Winehouse. Bridie joined in for a couple of numbers, notably a languid, soulful She’s Like A Devil, and with typically Shippy diffidence, he handed things over to the quartet to finish things off. I suppose it’s the nature of the beast that something this special needs to be a one-off, but I really would love a chance to enjoy it again.

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