Could the Village Hall be the future of rock ‘n’ roll? Well, it worked for The Beatles. In years gone by we’ve seen James Grant (ex-Love & Money) in similar circumstances and Steve Tilston with full band – including Tull veteran Clive Bunker – rocked Appleton Thorn in 2003. We caught up with Dan Reed in 2016 at a golf club. And we’ve just witnessed The Korgis in an approximation of a small town meeting place. Intimate and non-threatening. What’s not to like?
Let’s be truthful, The Village Club in Thornton Hough – a sleepy suburb of Merseyside engineered by soap magnate Lord Leverhulme – isn’t actually the Village Hall but you get the idea.
Pete Whalley enthused about Hannah Aldridge’s debut album Razor Wire in 2014 and Jason Ritchie called the follow-up Gold Rush “a joy from start to finish.”
Aldridge’s Dad Walt is a big Nashville figure who has written for any number of country-based artists. Hannah, thankfully, has taken a different route although freely quoting her dalliances with the likes of Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell and “Grammy nominee” Ashley McBryde. Her two albums have been nicely dark and quite rocky.
As she told us – spoiler alert – you won’t hear many love songs tonight but she did illuminate most of her material with engaging between song banter. She also referred to her love of Fleetwood Mac and classic rock in general although you wouldn’t have necessarily gathered that from the material other than a tribute to the late Chris Cornell.
Her albums are stylistically not dissimilar to Sheryl Crow and even Stevie Nicks in places. But for most dates on her current tour she’s joined by North Wales trio Goat Roper Rodeo Band, a band championed by tonight’s promoter Chris Stevens of Heaven’s Gate.
Unfortunately this introduces a bit of country/blues/rockabilly into the mix (as demonstrated in their spirited support set) and it was somewhat telling that when they left the stage the dynamic changed and the gig moved up a notch.
With Hannah and just her acoustic guitar it was really all we needed short of a full electric band. But this shouldn’t put off the unconverted because she does do a fair amount of solo dates.
In truth there really wasn’t enough of “Hannah Aldridge”, with a sprinkling of covers including a song by Ben Glover and an encore of Gillian Welch’s ‘Red Clay Halo’.
There is something about the village gig that is endearing. Yes, there was a lady doing crochet. The cardigan must have been finished before the end of the gig because she’d long gone before a rousing finale of ‘Burning Down Birmingham’ when audience members were invited to join the stage for a singalong.
You could say, what the hell is an artist of Hannah’s calibre doing in a place like this? Don’t worry, village halls rock too. Deal with it.
Setlist: Rails To Ride/Old Ghost/Lie Like You Love Me/No Heart Left Behind/Like A Stone/Burn To Be Broken/Lonesome/Howlin Bones/Lace/Parchman/The Fall/Burning Down Birmingham Encore: Red Clay Halo/Don’t Be Afraid
Review and photos by David Randall
European tour dates (May 2019)
UK (with Goat Roper Rodeo)
May 02 Hare and Hound, Birmingham
May 03 Music in the Hall, Bewdley
May 04 Little Rabbit Barn, Ardleigh
May 05 The Harrow, High Wycombe
Netherlands (withWith Gustav Sjodin)
May 07 Blue Room Sessions, s-Hertogenbosch
May 08 De Schalm, Amsterdam (Westwoud)
May 09 Maastricht
May 10 Raumfahrtzentrum Saarner Kuppe, Mulheim an der Ruhr
May 11 Da Capo, Solingen
May 12 Lux, Nigmegen
May 14 Crossroads Radio, Bergen op zoom
May 16 Musemix Concerts @ Max Guitar, The Hague
May 17 TBA, Sjpikebor
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Power Plays w/c 16 September (Mon-Fri)
BLOCK BUSTER Losing Gravity (Frontiers)
WATCH ME BREATHE Don’t Think I Haven’t Thought About It (The Label Group/INGrooves)
FIRES OF FREYA Take A Bow (indie)
BLACK STAR RIDERS Underneath The Afterglow (Nuclear Blast)
STOMPIN’ HEAT Shiny Curly Red Hair (indie)
Featured Albums w/c 16 September (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 THE DEFIANTS Zokusho (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 CORELEONI II (AFM Records)
14:00-16:00 TONY McLOUGHLIN True Native (Fuego)
Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)
BAD COMPANY Company Of Strangers (1995)
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