Review: Rory Ellis – Worthenbury Village Hall – 11 June 2010
Posted on: Friday, Jun 18, 2010
‘Going Up The Country’ at Worthenbury Village Hall: 11 June 2010
It was a widely-held opinion that Rory Ellis’s two half-hour sets at last year’s Worthenbury Roots and Blues Festival were the highlights of the day – therefore it was a delight to catch the big man from Melbourne back to do his full show in the intimate surroundings of the village hall – the two lengthy sets confirming again what a performer this guy is, his rootsy songs cover many topics, from growing up, to politics and many observations on modern life that are usually led into with some observations and stories.
Again partnered by the supremely talented Alex Roberts from Poole in Dorset, on guitar, lap slide and bouzouki and occasional backing vocals, Ellis’s deep, low rumble of a voice, together with his guitar and banjo playing, was on top form on a selection of material from his five albums, with a healthy portion of new material from his recently-released “Perfectly Damaged” . . . . as he said “I’m not getting old, I’m just perfectly damaged”!
The two sets were a joy, opening with the brooding “Passenger”, and the lovely title track from “Two Feathers” . . . . a delightful tale of his childhood ‘bolt-hole’, with the excellent “Home Tonight”, about getting lost on the Leicester ring road, another first set standout – all embellished by the quite marvellous guitar work from Alex Roberts . . . a star in his own right! The new “Jesus Lane”, about a street in Cambridge, was also a highlight.
The very long second set contained a fair sprinkling from “Perfectly Damaged” and a few old favourites. “The Gift” was preceded by the background to the song, about a drugs bust gone wrong in Somerset; the wry “Waiting For Armaguard”, the Australian equivalent to Securicor, and his visions to get rich quick; and his take on internet dating, the great “PC Love”. He dipped into racial tensions on the great song “Suburban Soldier”, written about a riot near Sydney, and another fine song.
Elsewhere, we had a sing-along on the chorus of his anti-John Howard song, “Work”, and a couple of personal favourites – the epic, sweeping “Road Of No Return”, written about the never-ending highways in his native Australia, and the gritty “Railway Parade”. He touched on his time working doors in Melbourne with “The Victoria Hotel”, and how after being shot at four times decided it might be a good idea to move on . . . indeed!
This was an early date in a very lengthy tour, with an appearance next weekend at The Linton Festival, near Hereford, and also a slot at the Maryport Blues Festival in July. A couple of hours in Rory Ellis’s company come highly recommended – a truly engaging performer and great writer, especially caught live in such a nice small venue.
Pictures from Ian Williams (only one letter different from the BBC’s lovely Sian Williams) www.ianwilliamsphotography.co.uk