Live: Adelaide’s Cape @ The Gladstone, London Bridge

adelaide's-capeIt’s rare that I write a gig review that begins with a discussion of the venue, but in this case I feel I have little choice in the matter.  The Gladstone is a lovely little pub round the corner from Borough Tube.  They serve great real ales and Pieminister pies, and there’s plenty of places to sit and enjoy the music.  But the sound was managed abominably badly and Adelaide’s Cape’s set began with some ear-bleedingly loud and sustained feedback that blighted the otherwise very laid-back atmosphere.

Main moan over, Sam Taylor approached his less-than-perfect surroundings with class and humour, and suceeded in giving a largely effortless, and rather impressive, performance.  He opened with a stunning Nick Drake cover, ‘Black-eyed dog’, which  drew silence from the merry folk tucking into their cakes and ale.

In a later song, we heard a description of a literate travelling lady, so heavily-laden with the names of classic authors (Kafka, Hemmingway – the usual suspects) that I began to suspect that Adelaide’s Cape might make a rather suitable gentleman friend (lyrically-speaking at least) for Emmy the Great.

Taylor’s resonator guitar ensures that his bluegrass credentials are second-to-none, and the pairing of delicate playing with the slight graininess of his Scottish tones is an utter pleasure to hear. The set closed with ‘Anchored Down’, a sea travel song referring to ‘flotsam & jetsam and all their friends’, the finger-picking on which was a true wonder to behold.  This boy’s got incredible digits and he’s not afraid to let you know.

Now, moan the second: if you’re an alcoholic with no social skills and a rather inflated sense of your own ability to be hilarious, it’s best not to sit at the front for an acoustic gig. In fact, you’d be better off going to any of the millions of pubs in London without live music. I’ve never wished more that I was at a paid-for gig, because prats like the one I refer to here would never part with a fiver for the privilege of being that rude. Adelaide’s Cape deserves a darn sight more respect than he was afforded at the Gladstone tonight.

Words: Helen True

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