Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Evenings with While and Matthews

The two Chris While & Julie Matthews gigs have been and gone.

Both were great … similar to each other but yet different enough to make both worth attending.

“Worth attending”?

Well .. who am I kidding?

The “events” were fantastic. I remember thinking as I sat and listened … at this moment there is nowhere that I’d rather be.




Even an invitation for the guys to get in touch with their feminine side … an aid to understanding the pain of being a reluctant netball player  and the feelings expressed in the song Class Reunion.

I think Julie must play guitar with a lot of passion … a guitar string broke at both events. It was especially cute at the Ram Club. Towards the end of a song the string snaps. Julie continues to play. At a convenient point Julie changes strings whilst Chris sings sans musique. A few minutes later the guitar is strung and the next song is about to begin but tuning is not quite complete. “Could you just adjust my G-string a little?” says Julie. “No … the G not the D.”All is adjusted. The show goes on.

A big part of both evenings is the new album Hitting the Ground Running. I’d bought the music a few days before the first gig but only had chance to listen to snatches of it. Hearing the songs live …. together with a little background on many of them … is great. Here’s what I remember of the introductions to some of the songs.

Carved in Stone: Julie was in Spain … beautiful mountainside. A cemetery where the graves were dug into almost a wall. One of the stones had a name carved into it … but everything else was worn away … illegible.

The Coldest Winds do Blow: Chris lives in Southport and at a certain time of year pink footed geese fly overhead from Iceland. How nice to fly away.

Rock of Gelt: The word Gelt,it seems, means money. Julie was one of the five songwriters and two poets that “spent five days in the remote Northumbrian countryside writing a new concert”. There’s a lot more info on this here. It seems a piece of Roman graffiti was discovered on Hadrian's Wall. Translated from the Latin it reads: Domnius didn’t want to do it. This song written by Julie together with Ruth Notman describes how Dominius might have felt. In the live performance Julie included a poem written by Elvis McGonagall. There’s other stuff about the event here and also here.

We’re not over yet is a song by Julie inspired by the style and inspiration of the Everly Brothers and people that wrote songs for them.

The Darkside Wood … by Chris … inspired by stories of Australian bushfires.

Somewhere I Walk Alone. Julie said that a while ago the mobile phone signal at where she lives had died. No mobile phone seemed ultra depressing for a while. And then came news that made no mobile phone seem to be not so unbearable. Things can always be harder.

Hitting the ground running. A break up … and the ensuing tug of what should be love.

Bridge over time. Another song inspired by Hadrian’s wall and the excavations that take place there. Sometimes so little seems to separate us from the past.

If you like acoustic folk rock then buy the album! I love it.

At the second gig they sang Jewel in the Crown … which features on a Fairport Convention album of the same name and also on the Julie Matthews CD Such is Life. The lyrics are here and these are they:


Jewel in the Crown

(Julie Matthews)

We are a proud land we stand for freedom
We’ve got the franchise on how to lead them
We’ve got the history and books to prove it
Give us a mountain and we will move it
We rule the waves and the seven seas
We bring the mighty to their knees
We offer hope and inspiration
A fine example to lesser nations
We are Britannia the jewel in the crown

We brought a system to the masses
Divide the nation into classes
It’s in our breeding and on our faces
At least we’re all born knowing our places
We’re raised within our social borders
We only take what our class affords us
It doesn’t matter that it’s not even
This is the nature of the demon
We are Britannia the jewel in the crown

We are Britannia, we crowned an empire
We came and conquered
We tore their borders down
We need no conscience
God is on our side
We are Britannia the jewel in the crown

We are your friendly liberators
We’ll free your countries from their dictators
For a small slice of your oil wells
We’ll send our boys in with their gun shells
We are an ally to the needy
We’re always caring, never greedy
What other gesture could be finer
We’ve given Hong Kong
Back to China
We are Britannia the jewel in the Crown

We are Britannia, we crowned an empire
We came and conquered
We tore their borders down
We need no conscience
God is on our side
We are Britannia the jewel in the crown
We are Britannia the jewel in the crown

History isn’t all a flattering thing if you are Britannia.

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