Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Port cities have this unnerving ability in which to produce musicians which captivate the love of vocabulary and language; perhaps it comes down to the use of words on the docks, the different ways of having a conversation between two people from places which have nothing in common but the sea that breathes between them. Whatever the answer may be, some who hear the words somehow manage to make new worlds out of it and spread that verbal onslaught towards those willing to listen and take heed.
Southampton’s Sean McGowan has that delicate ear in which stories can be heard, digested and offered out as solutions to a world that is bent out of shape, it matters not the language involved, sometimes perhaps bordering on the beautifully soiled which comes from speaking the plain and unmitigated truth, what matters is the sentiment in which it is delivered, the uncontaminated and the sense of purpose to which a travelling musician always pays the price.
It is with open admission that Sean McGowan is arguably a great support to Billy Bragg on his latest tour, the Philharmonic Hall may be a venue that he is not used to being inside, but his view on the world is such that it is shaped by the man who bought popular folk and politics together for an English audience when far too many were concerned with appearance and the lure of easy virtue. It is the open admission that endears Mr. McGowan to the crowd, a humble interior opened up in the action of performance and one that always makes the hard shell more appealing.
In songs such as Neverland, Millbrook Road, Come Unstuck and No Show, Mr. McGowan brought modern day struggles and the fight against a system built upon intolerance and hatred, out into the open, the deftness of touch, the booming vocal, all combining to a support that was spotless and commanding, one that insisted but without being crushing, authorative vocals delivered without despair; just a strong sense of purpose to see the job done.
A vigorous and dominant sense of right and wrong lives in the heart of Sean McGowan, a passionate mind to which the bleak future possibly ahead is his to rage wonderfully against.
Ian D. Hall