Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The show must go on - review of The Ilsleys

The Ilsleys and Rick Green at ACE Space, Newbury on Friday, April 20

THEIR name may make them sound like a local band for local people, but The Ilsleys’ collective experience tots up to around 200 years or thereabouts in the music business, so a little thing like an injured drummer wasn’t going to put them off their stride (pretty hard to do: they were all sat down anyway - thinking of their hips), and their first headline show at ACE Space went ahead as planned on Friday, proving what utter pros they are. 

Not to say that drummer Nigel Reveler wasn’t missed (rule one of music reviewing: never annoy the drummer),  but the remaining four members (I was going to say “surviving members”,  but on second thoughts...) put on such a cracking performance that it was easy to forget that they weren’t planning on an acoustic set all along. I’m a sucker for vocal harmonies, and the richness of the band’s three-, and occasionally four-part harmonies soared throughout. Someone mentioned to me that their sound was reminiscent of Crosby, Stills & Nash - a pretty accurate comparison, as the set included a couple of hits written by Ilsleys nominal frontman Colin Jennings for The Hollies in the ’70s - albeit after Graham Nash had left the band.

The band performed two sets, crammed with an impressive 22 mainly new songs (the band might have a hard job picking out the ones to include on their forthcoming album Licks, Lilts & Lullabies) reflecting many lifetimes of musical and worldly-wise experience. “This one’s another love song,” pronounced Jennings, eliciting a comment from the audience: “Aw, love songs at their age.” Fair enough, the band were rocking the grey haired look,  but turning their hand from pure romance (Send Me The Pillow) to classic pop (their version of the Jennings-penned Hollies hit Magic Woman Touch), hippy vibes (Back To Nature) and a hint of psychedelia (I Will Love Her), The Ilsleys proved that years of experience, great on-stage banter, and top-notch professionalism create a magical musical brew.

In support was Rick Green, stepping out from behind the sound desk for an extended solo spot to showcase his new self-titled full-band album, available from Green himself at Sticks & Strings in Thatcham. His songs and shirt were tinged with Americana, and his set included a useful education in learning to love the C-word (which is, of course... Country).

What a great night. Let’s do it again soon, boys - next time, you can even bring your drummer (you might have to squish up your chairs to fit him onto the stage, though).

  • First published in the Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, April 26, 2012

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