Justin Sullivan / She Makes War at The Boars Head Kidderminster
My Daughter and I decided on a pirate themed half-term week. It began with Pirates of the Caribbean on Friday, via the Gloucester Tall Ships festival on Saturday and inadvertently incorporated the Justin Sullivan / She Makes War gig I went to the night before last night. I think I had heard about the gig via NMA's Facebook page. (I spent part of my teens and early twenties clad in little more than clogs, ankh and hair being lifted up on the shoulders of, for the most part, total strangers at concerts you could definitely describe as fierce - and not in a modern way).
Having, via the storms of life, increased my bodyweight by about four and a half stone meanwhile. As well as losing some strength in various limbs, the chance to see Sullivan sing solo at close quarters and with the prospect of a seat appealed. I duly booked my ticket drove there with a musician I know who had been discussing NMA with me only a couple of nights earlier. It was in this way, and with no expectation, that I discovered the best little pirate pub outside of Wapping. The Boars Head in Kidderminster, which is due to close very soon, was festooned in skull and crossbones and pirate regalia. The venue was quite simply lovely. It felt like being on board a pirate ship or in an old coaching inn from the days of pirates and press gangs. The crowd were kind and friendly, and everyone who asked for a seat at a table was welcomed. The drains in the loos weren't working, but nobody who was there cared as far as I could tell. Every table in the room with the lovely little skull encircled stage had a great view and the acoustics, and lighting were simple but wonderful. The Bar even served Red Stripe which is definitely one of my top two beers. In keeping with the pirate theme the other singer She Makes War also turned out to be called Laura Kidd (she made a joke about her surname name not being impressive, or famous but I wondered if she were a descendant of the pirate Captain Kidd). Anyway She Makes War gave a soulful and stunning performance that, though it was multi-layered musically with different instruments, would probably worked equally well without any. Laura's voice is simply that good. In places she sounds similar to Julianne Regan (only I think her voice is a little better). On the stage of the Boars Head and with glitter around her eyes Laura looked and sounded rather like an etherial mermaid or siren. She certainly held the audience transfixed. Her songs reminded me of everything from All About Eve to Gwen Stefani via the harder edges of protest tracks like I Want My Country Back. All washed down with whip smart humour. I bought her CD which, incidentally, is great to drive to. Do yourself a favour and check out her website http://shemakeswar.com I think one or two tracks would make excellent film soundtracks. Justin's voice was better than I remember and the set list was a mellow range of but love songs and more up tempo and politically charged social commentary / muscular acoustic folk /rock. He again was amusing and down to earth. Here's a clip of a favourite track of mine.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BUxYB_2gnty/?taken-by=alexcabrini At the end of the night everyone agreed it had been a fantastic gig. But it was bittersweet because this wonderful venue with it's love atmosphere, will soon fade, like a ghost ship from all but memory and photographs.
Update: I am very sad to hear that the musician friend that I went with to this gig died suddenly very recently. My condolences to his partner and his family.