Happy New Year?

  Black Sabbath VOL 4 Revisited

  All Things Must Pass 50th

  The Wainwrights Plus Virtual

  My Best Albums for 2020

  Joe Bonamassa Guitar Man

  Katie Melua Live

  Foo Fighters Live & New LP

  Is The USA Nightmare Over?


  Download Back in 2021!

  On Barbra Streisand

  Roger Waters Us + Them Review

  Skunk Anansie 2021 Tour

  CHERNOBYL By Serhii Plokhy

  Metallica’s S&M2 Review

  Barbara Thompson @ The BBC

  Delicate Sound Of Thunder

  The State We’re In…

  Welcome Back! But To What?

  What Have We Done?


  New Album Reviews

  Montreux Jazz Fest at Home!

  Photojournalism Hero

  Samantha Fish Live

  Gill Landry Live in Chester

  Noah Gundersen Live

  David Gilmour’s Interview

  Snow Patrol Live in Manchester

  New Model Army Live

  Shakespears Sister Live

  Lamb Live in Manchester

  The Struts Live

  Sting & Shaggy Live

  Ana Popovic, Lynne Jackaman Live

  David Gray Live in Liverpool

  The Slow Readers Club Live

  Karine Polwart Trio Live

  Benjamin Folke Thomas Live

  Chilly Gonzales Live

  Gomez Live in Manchester

  John Lennon Interview

  Ray LaMontagne Live

  Satriani’s G3 Live

  Emily Barker Live in Manchester

  Jim White Live in Manchester

  Tori Amos Live

  Bush & RavenEye Live

  Grandaddy Live

  Laura Marling Live

  Martha Wainwright Live

  Jimmy Eat World Live

  Beverley Knight Live

  Ludovico Einaudi Live

  Roger Waters on Amused To Death

Gill Landry Live in Chester


St Mary’s Performance Space, Chester, 15 February 2020.

The city of Chester has until recently lacked good live venues. That changed a few years ago with the advent of The Live Rooms, notable for its rock ‘n’ roll schedule, and this bijou venue at a former church. Being based in Chester I of course welcome good venues (which encourage some of the best artists around) and the convenience of reviewing and photographing. St Mary’s has a wonderful acoustic quality which attracts both fans and artists (especially singer/songwriters). First on the menu was a familiar face at St Mary’s.


Singer/songwriter Tom Blackwell performs in many of the small venues across the North of England, distilling his blues, folk, soul and gospel influences into what Bob Harris has rightly described as, “Wonderful, heartfelt music.”

In 2018 Blackwell released the first of his MEMPHIS series of albums. The new recordings are minimal, unadorned. There is nothing wasted or unnecessary cluttering the sound, just emotive vocals framed by quiet guitar and harmonica. The essence of everything Blackwell does is in his plaintif and soulful singing voice. On stage he may punctuate with mournful harmonica and emphasise with expressive guitar, but it is the vocal that is the heart-rending centre of his art.

His lyrics are elemental, relying on natural metaphor and spare phrasing to render their stories; the resultant music is intimate, whilst Blackwell’s voice has the emotional heft to convince. He sings his authentic songs as if he is living them - songs that feel as if they are coming to you rolling across the plains and through dusty mid-Western streets, classic Americana, telling stories of bruised hopes, and fragmented settlements between yearning and loss.


The calm and ancient church is almost full for Blackwell who, without ceremony, began his set. Some biographies I have read tend to overstate the subject’s talents and nature, but on this occasion every word of it rang true. Blackwell is a passionate and expressive performer and you’d be very perceptive to spot that he’s not American, so convincing is his Americana twang. What came through loud and clear was his artistic integrity and devotion to his musical genre. Vocally, he hit every note with pinpoint accuracy and exhibited a useful vocal range.


The audience responded to his songs and stagecraft with enthusiasm. My only criticism was in the song-writing in that while subject matter could not be faulted, every song sounded the same and melodies weren’t compelling enough. Blackwell has to be one of the best Americana performers in the UK, with a few tweaks could be the greatest.



Page: 1 2


Shakenstir Photo Supplement
Manchester 2010 - Gallery: Maccabees

Remembered - Gallery: David Bowie
David Bowie Vintage - Gallery: Drummers
Shakenstir - Homepage Links Reviews Live Interviews Features News Contact Gallery Shakenstir - Homepage