Reviews 2011

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Mike Silver

Bryn Phillips 8 April 2011

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When we arrived Mike Silver was doing a sound check. Only when he had got the set up exactly as he liked did he leave the stage. His four (yes four!) guitars were standing neatly in their stands, and the pedals were all lined up waiting for his return later in the evening. Mike is a true professional and perfectionist and as always I was looking forward to his playing and singing.

The evening started off with three of the Woodman stalwarts – Ian, Keith and Bryn, together with a new singer at the club, Jamie, who performed Richard Thompson’s “How Will I Ever Be Simple Again”, followed by Jake Thackray’s “The Dog”. It’s always good to see a new performer at the club and I’m looking forward to seeing him again.

After the warm up it was time for Mike Silver, who started off the evening with “No Good Times Gone” from his “How Many Rivers” album followed by “Sailors All” a song written by Ewen Carruthers, a good friend of Mike’s who sadly passed away in 2010. I remembered this song as one of Mike Silver’s classics that goes back a long way and as always the whole audience joined in with the infectious chorus. Ewen Carruthers, whom I had never had the pleasure of seeing performing, was mentioned a lot during the evening and as I listened to Mike singing his songs I could understand that with his passing the world had lost a great songwriter. One of the songs that I had not heard before was “Alcatraz”, with the superb line, “Remember pal, the name is Al, oh yeah, Al Catraz”. 

As well as Ewen Carruthers’ songs, Mike had a number of his own, several of which were from his afore mentioned “How Many Rivers” album including the title track, which again had us all singing another infection chorus, “How many waves ….”. Then there was “Jack Will Dance”, a  song written in response to someone at a gig who succeeded in annoying him by dancing (out of time) in front of him all evening. Never annoy a singer-songwriter, they’ll get you in the end! There were a few of his old classics such as “Not A Matter of Pride” and “Fragile Peace”, but a lot of the material was new to me.

As always I enjoyed his guitar playing which is clean and precise and uses slight pauses and sustain to great effect. On some songs he cleverly used a partial capo which added to the variety of his style. And there was also variety in his guitars, one of which was a tenor guitar in mandolin tuning. He told us he had to learn to play this guitar by finding chords on the internet. Having done this he decided to write a song for his new guitar, which he then proceeded to play for us, an excellent foot tapping bluesy number. 

The biggest surprise came at the end. As I mentioned at the beginning Mike is very particular about getting the set up exactly right and he uses the electronics maybe more than most - however, for his encore he stepped in front of the microphones and with his guitar unplugged played Nature Boy, a song written in 1949 and previously sung by Nat King Cole. “This proves it’s a live performance”, he said with a grin, and it was – he blew us away! A great evening and I’m looking forward to his return to the club already.