Review: Doug MacLeod at The Harbourside Club, Liverpool – 3 April 2008

Posted on: Monday, Apr 7, 2008

As Doug MacLeod had captivated the audience with his first appearance at The Harbourside Club in March 2007, the relatively modest attendance was somewhat disappointing. Not surprisingly, Doug’s performance confirmed that the absentees had denied themselves a particular pleasure.

He began with the fast-moving “Don’t Believe Everything You Read” before launching into the highly whimsical “She’s Boogying”. He then delivered a Blind Willie McTell-influenced slow blues, followed by “Horse With No Rider” – the harbinger of unexpected death (within the context of the song, that is). When performing that number in Belgium, Doug had been asked whether it was a true story, to which he replied in typically laid-back manner, “Does it matter?” The boogie beat was restored with “Long Black Train”, while “What You Got Ain’t Necessarily What You Own” drew heavily on his youthful, naval service. The delightful set was concluded with “Welcome In Your Home”.

The upbeat shuffle, “Comin’ Your Brand New Day” opened the second set, which led into a love song. Some tuning difficulties prompted reference to the remark made by Big Bill Broonzy in similar circumstances: “Well, it was in tune when I bought it.” “The Addition To Blues” supplied another helping of humour before “Old Country Road” delivered a tribute to a veteran bluesman, who had put Doug in his place at a time when he brashly considered himself to be the king of the Virginia blues scene. However, that self-deprecating confession soon gave way to a very different declaration (an aversion to skinny women) in the highly amusing “Turkey Leg Woman”, which was delivered in bouncing Mississippi Hill Country style. The set was brought to a close with “This Old River” and a final, lively number imbued with the Elmore James rhythm. The inevitable encore, the Furry Lewis-influenced “That Ain’t Right”, completed the superb programme.

Doug MacLeod is one of the very best acoustic bluesmen on the world stage and he delivers all the ingredients associated with that level of performer – a terrific voice, excellent guitar playing and an abundance of humour, all invoking graphic reflections of the blues heritage. 

Lionel Ross

Doug MacLeod

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