REVIEW: Paul Rhodes’s verdict on Bobby Lee and Pascallion, The Crescent, York

Bobby Lee and drummer Ian McCutcheon: “Guitar-driven instrumentals with an expansive, filmic quality”. Picture: Paul Rhodes

CUTTING a dash is rarely a bad move when it comes to performing music. While none at The Crescent did so much as bat an eye to the retro chic figure enjoying the support act, once on stage, Bobby Lee, from Sheffield but in every other respect American, looked like a man made for the limelight.

In appearance recalling Lee Hazlewood in his late 1960s’ pomp, Lee’s guitar-driven instrumentals have an expansive, filmic quality. The backdrop was video from the 1960s and 1970s, and promoters Ouroboros’s trademark floor lamp also added a certain period glow.

The three piece locked quickly into place, dispatching 15 songs in a little over an hour. That was enough, as the circular riffs were starting to turn in on themselves and blur.

Pascallion, alias York musician Jack Woods: “Dour, Elliot Smith-like nihilism contrasting with nimble, beautiful guitar playing”. Picture: Paul Rhodes

There were a number of peaks in the set, however. Reds For A Blue Planet, the opener from his best album to date, Endless Skyways, was confident, bold and melodic. Lee wisely leaves space for his music, resisting the urge to play lots of notes, or attempt jazz rock meanders. Closer in spirit perhaps to Link Wray, or Lee Hazlewood’s original charge, Duane Eddy.

His bandmates were able accomplices, drummer Ian McCutcheon in particular laying down inventive patterns without steeling any thunder. There was just enough variety and showmanship to keep the evening afloat, mixing more atmospheric numbers, such as  Acid Flat Lands, with more riff-based tunes, such as Heavy Friends.

The world certainly seems to weigh down on Pascallion, the York-based opener. Information online is sparse about this musician (Jack Woods), but the set was wonderful – his dour, Elliot Smith-like nihilism contrasting with his nimble, beautiful guitar playing. If the John Martyn comparisons are hard to avoid, this was a set of songs deserving of a wider audience.

That both performers had in common.

Review by Paul Rhodes, 29/10/2023

Bobby Lee’s three piece locked quickly into place, dispatching 15 songs in a little over an hour. Picture: Paul Rhodes