Monday, January 29, 2007
Pete Morton at the Packe Horse Loughborough, Friday 26th January...
To the Pack Horse, Loughborough – Pete Morton, probably my favourite English singer/songwriter, on his annual visit to the Grand Old Club... Mr Marmion and Mr David Morton (no relation) started off with a couple of songs – 'The Dutchman,' which grows on me every time I hear it, and 'Ratcliffe Highway.' Forward Pete Morton – starting with a new song 'Good enough for me,' (I think). First couple of numbers seemed a bit tentative and I wondered if we can always have such high expectations of a performer – then he proceeded to blow the place apart as ever (how wrong can you be...) – his unique mixture of humour, passion and sharp social observation folded into his music – a soaring voice and rock solid guitar combining to build on what's left of the tradition without lapsing into the twee or the irrelevant – no more bloody songs about the First World War, for a start... although if anyone could come up with a new angle on those events – it would be Pete, I guess.
What he does is shine a light on the commonplace and position it in a wider context – without preaching – with a searing optimism which is just so damn refreshing. A celebration of his roots that fixes them in our common heritage without narrow xenophobic trappings – or sneery old lefty whinings – and takes in the city and the country, from mundane activities like standing in a post office and observing the people in the queue to the fun of a drinking session in a ratty old pub to the wide spaces and flatlands of Lincolnshire. I wrote a lengthy review of his last performance here so won't repeat myself too much – except to note that Pete never just wacks out the tried and trusted – he always has something new to offer – like the song in Platte Deutche. Even the anthem – 'Another Train' – gets sneakily placed in the song order – too easy to end on, he resists the temptation to take the easy hit. Pete, of course, has always been a superb interpeter of the tradition, making his bones all those years ago with his epic version of 'Tam Lin,' for example. Tonight he finished on 'Farmer's Boy,' plugging his audience into the English Rural Sublime with a vengeance... A stirring, soulful, superb night... He also gracefully performed my request for my current favourite song 'Shepherd's Song,' about the tragic nineteenth century poet, John Clare. Thanks, Pete... (And quick mention of the other floor singer, John Bentham, who bears a remarkable resemblance to the free jazz saxophonist,Paul Flaherty, and has a powerful yet mellow voice... ).