Saturday, May 28, 2011

Getting down with Da Vinci - review

Review by Bill Ainsworth 

Da Vinci at Ace Space, Newbury, on Friday, April 15.
A mixed bag of musicians comprising veteran songwriter and keyboardist Jim Johhnson, who has worked with such luminaries as Brian Eno Cozy Powell and Peter Green,; bassist  Francois Pirois, a “crazy Frenchman”; youthful guitarist Ollie Trethewey, a music student; drummer Steve Cruikshank, who I saw many years ago in legendary local dub radicals Military Surplus & RDF; and saxophonist and clarinettist Alan Whetton, who has been in Dexys Midnight Runners amongst others; plus vocalist, where required, Lydia Johnson (Jim’s daughter) make up Hungerford based outfit Da Vinci.

After what had been an emotional day for those members who had attended the funeral of fellow Military Surplus/RDF member Steve Swann (R.I.P.) the band entertained a crowd as varied in age as the band at Newbury’s wonderfully intimate, yet amply sized Ace Space.

The band’s style would be equally suited to a swish cocktail bar or an ocean liner’s lounge, they opened with a pair of diverse cover versions, Cole Porter’s Summertime and Portishead’s Glory Box, which suited 20-someting Lydia’s lush, rich vocal talents beautifully. This was followed by a series of Jim’s mellow songs and instrumentals, with Alan’s instruments very much in the leading role. These included Visions, which reminded me of a late70’s/early 80’s U.S. TV theme, but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly which one; a jazzy Miles & Miles (Geddit?); It’s Only Love; Funk Off; a gorgeous song called Stay With Me;  and Love For Lydia, during which the lady for whom the tune was written stayed in the wings, smiling and dare I say blushing, which was understandable.

After the interval Steve said a few words in tribute to Mr Swann before they launched into Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff, which was the cue for the first few people to leave their drinks on their subtly candlelit tables and hit the dancefloor. Van The Man’s Moondance followed and then, my favourite band composition of the night, Passion. The second set was more up tempo than the first and styles ranging from Dave Brubeck to The Police came to mind. The band said their farewells with a second airing of Passion, even groovier than the first, at which point I was reminded of the suave and sadly short lived heyday of Swing Out Sister.

A very chilled and enjoyable evening was had by all.

  • By guest blogger Bill Ainsworth, first published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, April 21, 2011

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