Herringbone John, Gig Review. The Courtroom Cafe, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

There has always been so much to take in with pleasure when in the company of John Hall, (Herringbone John), an acoustic night here, a full band session there, this is what John Hall brings to the area, the sound of the Blues, much neglected in some quarters but one delivered with appreciation and enjoyment in Liverpool by the man who makes the guitar ache with beauty. This is not a man who shows off or lets the occasion spoil him, this is no grand master to whom people will part with extortionate amounts of money for, this is a man of honour and his music respectfully shows that.

The difference between one side of a coin and the other is that the one on the flip side is normally more interesting, it offers a different view, a perspective that might be ignored by others but one in which should be saluted. Not only does Mr. Hall throw in a poem into his set, a rarity in the acoustic world, and in this case the smile inducing Planet Zog, but he will place before the crowd a cover in which somehow at the back of your mind you will believe should not be attempted but somehow, and with great skill, works. It works because Herringbone John makes it so, he plays with the image at hand and makes it shift, makes it take on another form.

If you are going to cover Hawkwind, then most people would naturally allude to the classic stance, the air tight with claustrophobic intent and the sweat bordering on special oddity, especially on a track such as Silver Machine and yet in herringbone John’s hands the opposite is true, the song has space to breathe, the notes loose and bountiful and full of dream like quality; it is in the man that such magical things can happen and at the Courtroom Café, that moment of serenity was achieved.

With Going Back Home and God Bless the Angels making up the set for Liverpool Acoustics’ night out, this was a night in which Herringbone John once more excelled.

Ian D. Hall