REVIEW: Son Of Town Hall, The Cockpit, Pickering

Son of Town Hall’s Ben Parker and David Berkeley at The Cockpit, Pickering

Son Of Town Hall, The Cockpit, Pickering, November 20 2019

WE ARE told organic is best, and here is a case in point. Son Of Town Hall are an itinerant duo, with one stock rooted in Simon & Garfunkel and the other in the Peaky Blinders era.

Ben Parker and David Berkeley’s voices meet somewhere in the mid-Atlantic and it’s a thrilling combination, floating on an intimate, warm bed of acoustic guitars.

The pair sail to Yorkshire most years, and it’s always a welcome return (the recent floods hastened their arrival). The tiny club was full, 30 souls sitting in airline seats to hear water-borne songs of love and loss up close. It’s the perfect den to hear live music.

Destined for bigger halls: Son Of Town Hall at The Cockpit

Son Of Town Hall were touring to promote their first album, Adventures Of Son Of Town Hall. It has been a very long time in gestation by modern standards, supposedly recorded live on the raft they travel on.

Miraculously they chose perfectly still days to record and avoided any gimmicky shellac scratches. It ranks with the best of acoustic music released in 2019 – and by virtue of the genre, therefore any year – perhaps an unnecessary drum roll or two away from perfection. While it is music made for the tavern, the song craft worn on Cobbler’s Hill is breath-taking.

Their playful set covered pretty much their entire recorded output, interwoven with amusing interludes about their friendship. Named after a raft made of junk, it is fitting that their music in turn recycles, but, like a weathered pair of frigatebirds, they have picked the ageless bits that shimmer brightest. Some of the old jokes have gone overboard.

“Simon & Garfunkel meets Peaky Blinders”: Son Of Town Hall’s playful set in Pickering

Highlights included Poseidon, which rang and soared, and the quietly devastating Louise. A couple of older songs were revived, with Snow In Mexico particularly welcome. Winds was the pick of the new material, while St Jerome was less fulfilling, missing a measure of grit.

The concept is wildly original, tunes built to last, and their pleasure in performing them so clear. You just hope they don’t tire of the act just as they reach a deservedly wider audience (with gigs this size, in about ten years…).

Review by Paul Rhodes