Unusually I was on my own in the studio tonight, just the listener keeping me company as I interspersed alternating Rock and non-rock tracks with phone-ins and chats with promoters. I cheated and left the show early in the hands of the computer playing Betika and Krista Green so I could dash across to Mr Kyps.

Hannah Robinson had texted me earlier letting me know she was playing support to Jackie Leven at Mr Kyps, and how many tickets would I like. This is both unexpected, kind and generous, plus gives me the chance to hear Hannah doing a solo set in an appreciative venue – I’ve seen her quite a lot as the front lady of the excellent Paint It Blue, and yet rarely get the opportunity to hear her solo (although Hannah did serenade me once as my guest on the radio show).

When I arrive she’s already into her set, I can tell by her distinctive voice overheard from the car park! Hannah is very soulful, and has a wonderful manner over the mic. No trace of nerves or collywobbles, each tune mesmerising with the simply played chords capturing the in-the-round mood effortlessly. Lovely!  Her last song in particular must become a showcase – whistling over the guitar, with some “la la la’s” – all very hard to do without a tremor, all achieved pretty much perfectly, to my ears.

There is one major disappointment for me – with doing the radio show (even letting the automation taking over) I’ve missed Pete Christie perform the opening set. “Doors at 8” must mean doors at 8, gig soon after nowadays, unlike other Mr Kyps gigs I’ve attended a while back, where  “Doors at 8” meant the first band of 3 wasn’t on until just before 9…my bad.

Jackie Leven is instantly charming and amusing, disarming a cold night with some warm Scottish Cheer, and dealing with my missing-Pete-Christie-induced disappointment in the way a muso only can, by throwing some amazing songs my way, mixed in with some great anecdotes and heart aching and warming stories.

Jackie has played and is playing with some greats – he tells us this is a penultimate gig of this current tour, before he hooks up with Ralph McTell for a gig, then Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Name drops over he enters a tone poem about his entry into the Johnny Cash fan club Jonny Come Lately division, while stuck in a Norwegian hotel room in Trondheim. Charming, engaging and captivating all at the same time as being a mournful dirge as good tone poems should be.

Jackie has an interesting style – he can generate deep guttaral vocals as if he has a digeridoo on hand. The way he plays guitar means the low E catches the frets in a way that should aggravate through fret buzz, yet it works well within the songs’ dynamics. As I said, interesting.

Something else I like is the way he tells his stories, while accompanying himself on the guitar, much as Pete Christie does if he’s holding a normal conversation with you. Perhaps they have the same affliction – can’t be away from a guitar for a couple of hours without getting some screaming heebies! Either way, it all adds to the engagement, even dispelling some of the vernacular language he uses overmuch for my tastes.

For a couple of photos of the night, check out Fiona Megapix‘ photos on facebook…

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