Review: Martin Harley and Sam Lewis at Fogherty’s Function Room, Liverpool – Friday, 14th November 2014

Posted on: Tuesday, Nov 18, 2014


Martin Harley and Sam Lewis at Fogherty’s Function Room – 14.11.2014

It was very nearly twelve months to the day when this fabulous double bill graced Liverpool Marina. Such was the impact of that previous performance that it was no surprise that there was standing room only in Fogherty’s Function Room for this eagerly anticipated return visit of the duo to the city.

Sam Lewis from East Nashville, USA, opened the proceedings with a splendid, laid-back set, which largely comprised his own excellent compositions. His wonderfully clear vocals and his lyrical guitar playing offered more than a hint of James Taylor as he charmed the audience with his friendly patter. He began with a number of gentle ballads including “Reinventing The Blues “ and “Waiting On You”, upping the tempo with “Things Will Never Be The Same”. “Never Again” bore signs of Willie Nelson’s influence while “Virginia Avenue” evoked warm memories of his grandma’s house before the splendid set was concluded with John Prine’s “Mexican Home”.

Martin Harley is an exceptional exponent of lap slide guitar, which he demonstrated from the start of his set on the upbeat, folksy “Cardboard King” and a hard-driven blues number. He switched to steel resonator guitar for “Automatic Life”, which he embellished with some superb finger picking, and for the Tom Waits-influenced “Drumrolls For Somersaults”. Back to the lap slide for “One For The Road” and a belting version of “I Can’t Be Satisfied” then to the resonator for “Winter Coat”, a performance of which had apparently reduced a hairy biker in Hastings to tears.

The fast-moving “Love In The Afternoon” was followed by the slow blues, “Blues At My Window”, complete with a terrific slide guitar solo, and, in direct contrast, “Honey Bee” in exuberant rag mode. Sam Lewis then returned to the stage for a lovely duetted rendition of Leadbelly’s “Goodnight, Irene” before the set was concluded with a terrific version of Tom Waits’s “Chocolate Jesus”, wonderfully enhanced by another stunning lap steel solo. Finally and all too soon, two encores – the slow blues, “Can’t Help Moving On” and the upbeat “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” – completed a magical evening’s entertainment.


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