REVIEW: Paul Rhodes’s verdict on Katherine Priddy and John Smith, Selby Town Hall, 3/11/2022

John Smith and Katherine Priddy: “Quietly lovely”. All pictures: Paul Rhodes

ANYONE expecting fireworks may have chosen the wrong evening.

So often over the years, this reviewer has been left mulling on what if the performers on the same bill actually played together? The folk world seems more into this swing of things, through necessity and perhaps companionship on the road.

While the prospect of this joint concert between the highly regarded John Smith and rising folk star Katherine Priddy was enough to set sparks flying, the show was rather muted.

That isn’t to say it wasn’t quietly lovely. Priddy, in particular, has the gift of a lovely voice and melodies that feel timeless. With Smith providing extra steel guitar, the two created a beautiful sound that had the sell-out crowd applauding loudly from the start.

The fireworks that were on offer were of the indoor kind. Like in Elvis Costello’s song of that title, Smith’s material was situated in the domestic seam, once star-crossed lovers dealing with relentless normality.

A new tune, Lily, written with the great Joe Henry, bodes well for his next album. Smith has an everyman appeal, and his material expertly, without fuss or fancy, deals with very relatable subjects.

Katherine Priddy: “The gift of a lovely voice and melodies that feel timeless”

Priddy’s songs do too, although her subject matter is sometimes many centuries old. This Eng Lit graduate has used her love of classical literature to craft at least two fine songs, with Eurydice the pick of the two.

From the between-song tuning chats, Priddy sounds like she has packed in plenty of song-worthy experiences that hopefully can be played out over a long career.

The two voices blended well, although Smith had picked up a cold, so his normally smoky warm burr was more of a gentle breeze. This was not a Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, or Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan study in contrasts.

Combined with a setlist that was pitched mostly at the same pace and on similar subjects, the evening was missing a note or two of variety. Priddy picked up on this, and they included her up-tempo Letters From A Travelling Man, which showcased Smith’s flair for country picking.

Over 14 songs and 100 minutes, the pair made a warm impression. Nestled in the lovely atmosphere of Selby Town Hall, it felt as though they were among friends. For an encore, they played their new single, a cover of The McGarrigle Sisters’ Talk To Me Of Mendocino (from Kate and Anna’s perfect 1976 debut album).

Priddy did a wonderful job with Kate’s song, her voice masterfully conveying a powerful yearning for home. By then we didn’t want them to leave, but the tour must roll on.

Review by Paul Rhodes

Take a bow: John Smith and Katherine Priddy at the finale

Farewell Mark Lanegan, the burning voice of a wasted generation

Mark Lanegan RIP. Picture: Steve Gullick

TWO Big Egos In A Small Car podcasters Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson look back on the life and wild times, the bands and the books, of Seattle singer, songsmith and writer Mark Lanegan.

Under discussion too in Episode 80 are Bielsa’s Leeds legacy; Sonita Gale’s Hostile immigration documentary, plus The Wedding Present and Ukrainian music in Leeds.

To listen, head to:

Manic Street Preachers booked for York Barbican on October 4 after September 3 release of The Ultra Vivid Lament album

Manic Street Preachers: Returning with 14th studio album and York Barbican date

WELSH rock band Manic Street Preachers will play York Barbican on October 4 on a 14-date 2021 tour with a second Yorkshire gig at Leeds O2 Academy on October 7.

The autumn itinerary will showcase the September 3 release of their 14th studio album, The Ultra Vivid Lament, on Columbia/Sony, preceded by lead single Orwellian, out today (14/5/2021).

In a departure from 2018’s Resistance Is Futile, the new album is the first Manics’ studio set to be conceived initially on piano rather than guitar.

Recording sessions took place in Wales over the winter of 2020-2021, at Rockfield Studios in Monmouth and the Manics’ Door To The River studio in Newport, working with long-time collaborator Dave Eringa before the tracks were mixed by David Wrench, whose credits include Blossoms, Frank Ocean and Arlo Parks.

The Ultra Vivid Lament will feature two guest vocalists: Julia Cumming, from Sunflower Bean, on The Secret He Had Missed and godfather of grunge Mark Lanegan on Blank Diary Entry.

On the subject of new single Orwellian, the Manics say: “The track is about the battle to claim meaning, the erasing of context within debate, the overriding sense of factional conflict driven by digital platforms leading to a perpetual state of culture war.

“As with many songs on the record, it was written on the piano by James Dean Bradfield. Musically, it echoes Abba, the majesty of Alan Rankine’s playing in The Associates and Talk Talk’s It’s My Life with a Lindsey Buckingham guitar solo. It felt like the perfect sonic and lyrical introduction to The Ultra Vivid Lament.”

The poster for The Ultra Vivid Lament Tour, Manic Street Preachers autumn travels

Bradfield, Nicky Wire and Sean Moore say of the album: “The Ultra Vivid Lament is both reflection and reaction; a record that gazes in isolation across a cluttered room, fogged by often painful memories, to focus on an open window framing a gleaming vista of land melting into sea and endless sky.” 

Inspired by the record box of their formative years – Abba, post-Eno Roxy Music, Echo & The Bunnymen, Fables-era REM and David Bowie’s Lodger – the 11 tracks marry introspection with quiet rage, from the opening ambient hum of Snowing In Sapporo to the galloping The Secret He Had Missed, with its push-and-pull duet imagining dialogue between Welsh brother and sister artists Augustus and Gwen John. In between come Diapause’s contemplation and Happy Bored Alone’s stoic wishful thinking. 

The full track listing is: Still Snowing In Sapporo; Orwellian; The Secret He Had Missed; Quest For Ancient Colour; Don’t Let the Night Divide Us; Diapause; Complicated Illusions;
Into The Waves Of Love; Blank Diary Entry; Happy Bored Alone and Afterending.

After their longest enforced break from playing live, the Manics will return to the stage with summer festival appearances and an open-air headline show at The Piece Hall, Halifax on September 10.

On the subsequent tour, the support act will be The Anchoress, the stage name of Welsh-born multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and author Catherine Anne Davies, whose March album, The Art Of Losing, is one of the records of 2021 to discover.

Manic Street Preachers last played York Barbican on May 27 2019 on a tour marking the 20th anniversary of their fifth album, September 1998’s This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours. Tickets for their October 4 return will go on sale on Friday, May 21 at 10am at