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Entries in Prince Albert (2)


A limping fox – and Dan Stuart

As I was walking home from last night's gig, a fox passed me on the opposite pavement and I noticed that it was carrying one back leg off the ground, unable to put any weight on it.

Blasé as we may now be about urban foxes, it's still a thrill to share the Brighton streets with wild beasts. But, as I walked on, the injury bothered me: it can't be much fun getting by like that – pain, lower life-expectancy, no chance of calling in at the PDSA for a plaster cast or splint...

Then it struck me as a pretty good metaphor for my feelings about the Dan Stuart gig I'd just seen at the Prince Albert. As half of the creative heart of Green on Red, alongside the mighty Chuck Prophet, more than twenty years ago now, he certainly counted as a big beast – at least to gentlemen of a certain age. (I note that his website promises that he'll buy a drink for anyone under 30 who comes to a show on the current tour; and at one point last night he surveyed the crowd and exclaimed 'There are females here!' – though there weren't that many, it must be admitted.)

I treasure memories of seeing Green on Red at the Zap Club, under the arches on the seafront - exactly 23 years before today's show. Stuart recalled that visit to Brighton too: apparently it was the first time he and Chuck had taken ecstasy...

The 2014 incarnation was just the second night of the current tour and Dan and his sole accomplice, guitarist Antonio Gramentieri, seemed still to be getting the measure of each other and the set up. Dan noted that he's more used to playing with a full band and missed the backbeat. For the audience, it's odd to have a different Telecaster-wielding guitarist next to him, and as talented and generally nice as Antonio seems to be, of course he isn't Chuck. Dan seemed to be blaming the audience for being quiet - which is seldom a good sign - drawing the response:

'It's Wednesday night',

which continued, with the expository pedantry which seems to come naturally to Brighton punters,

'and there's been a Bank Holiday, so it feels like Tuesday...'.

Anyway, there were good things on offer, with older classics mixed in with newer songs – an early rendition of 'Keep On Moving' and a lively take on '16 Ways' were particularly impressive. During one lull, Dan invited requests and I obliged with 'You Couldn't Get Arrested', only to be answered with: 

I swore I wasn't gonna play that fucking song once on this tour.

He tried it anyway, somehow managing to forget the change to the third chord (of a three chord song), but still ending up with a convincing version.

If Eden On The Line awarded stars, this would be 3 out of 5, I guess: I'm glad I saw it, but the gig never fully caught light and was essentially for established aficionados only. When Dan made clear soon after eleven that there would be no encore, I breathed silent thanks – and headed for my vulpine rendezvous...

For non-aficionados, here's some of what the fuss is about


Black Twigs

"We're going to play two sets, so I hope you stick around and dress accordingly", said Mike Gangloff, opening proceedings.

Another splendid gig from the Black Twig Pickers at Brighton's Prince Albert last night, three parts wondrous to one part bonkers. It is great to hear a folk tradition coming to life in so unforced and unacademic a way, with their own songs blending seamlessly with the traditional material they play.

I've raved about this bunch before. A highlight for me last night was 'The River's Flooded And Robin's Drowned', the plot of which is delivered pretty succinctly by the title: Robin gets stuck trying to drive across a flooded bridge but, after being rescued, tries to go back to his recover his gun. An American parable that could have been written last week, 50 or 100 years ago, give or take a few engines.

Banjo, fiddle, washboard, shared mics, hollerin', Appalachian dancing, fiddlesticks. What more do you want?