Joe Brown, Gig Review. Floral Pavilion, New Brighton.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10

You can find yourself at a Joe Brown gig for any given reason but you will stay for the unrelenting pleasure received from his undaunted smile, his absolute joy at sharing music with you and simply because he is an entertainer, a gentleman of the times who has never been left behind and to whom music is best served naturally and with openness. You may find yourself in the grip of bad times but Joe Brown cannot help but put a smile on your face and a song in your heart.

As the audience at the Floral Pavilion were soon to discover though, this was not an ordinary night for the fans of Joe Brown, the Lincolnshire lad raised so well in the heart of the East End of London that many cannot but help disassociate him from being anything but a well honoured Cockney, this was flying solo Joe, almost, the musician without his brothers, raw, experienced, full of the smiles but somehow more natural, wonderfully at ease and never once breaking the stride of fascinating story-telling and crafted song; this was Joe Brown the man and it was heart-warming to be in his company.

Alongside Joe was joined by his friend and sublime performer Henry Gross and as a duo and armed with so many songs that it made the crowd believe that their night could well last enjoyably into the small hours and in time for the sun to poke its head over the New Brighton shoreline, the evening was replete with respect; a normally nominal feeling to any performer who has kept the nation entertained for so many decades but to whom was enhanced just because of the way he conducted himself and the pleasure he gave without the band behind him.

The songs stretched back and forth, tracks that he learned in the pub he grew up in Plaistow in, old national favourites, songs that had been forgotten but instantly recognised due in part to the way they were presented, from a self-confessed adoring fan, and as the night slipped by with the serenity of a swan holding court on warm river, the theme from The Third Man rang true, a story about the late great Johnny Cash made the crowd grow ever more in love, the beautiful song Lucky Me, Duelling Banjos, Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues, Buddy Holly’s Oh Boy! and Joe’s wonderful piece with Roger Cook, the simple but generous of spirit Tickle My Heart, all these were played with a smile, heartfelt and truthful emotion.

A fantastic evening of rare quality, offered by a man who knows no other way to thrill an audience, Joe Brown remains a King to many, honest Joe, a man who survived in music by being true to himself.

Ian D. Hall