Tom Williams and the Boat, Portland Arms, Cambridge, 29 May 2014

Joe Bell and The Broadway Danny Rose, named after the minor masterpiece Woody Allen film from 1984, took to the stage with gently plucked and strummed acoustic guitar. His warm and affecting performance connected with the small audience. The songs are brimming with creative ideas, from the titles (‘Hang my Gallows High’, ‘Beating Hearts of Birds’), to the ambiguous emotions of the lyrics (the poignant ‘I Can’t Belong to You’), to the wide vocal range and tones he uses. If you listen to his soundcloud page or sample CD the varied instrumentation used creates mini movie soundscapes, (a bit difficult to play solo on stage!) showing the potential directions in which his sound could be developed.

Tom Williams and the Boat have three albums of folk-driven indie rock to their names, many festival appearances and a devoted following. Opening song ‘Little Bit in Me’ showcased interesting dark lyrics, complemented by acoustic guitar and electric piano blending with fuzzy guitar lines. A strong bass and some fiery drums added to the light and shade through the set. There was even a (too brief) bit of harmonica later too..

Tom Williams is a relaxed and accomplished frontman, his easy exchanges with the audience worked well. They are justly proud of their new album ‘Easy Fantastic’ and its rockier sound featured on the later songs this evening, when Tom replaced his acoustic with electric. The sound was varied, the sprawling epic ’25’ begins with brooding guitar and voice, building up to guitar fireworks and feedback fade ending. This was a bit of a change, but the sound of the closing song ‘Get Older’ brought us back to the pounding folk rock where we started. It was a good show, the small but appreciative audience will be there next time too I think…


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