Playing as main support to Elvis Costello, Ian Prowse takes the stage promptly and wastes no time in getting into his set.
Flanked by a violinist and pianist, the rousing vocal style of the Pele/Amsterdam frontman filled the glorious auditorium of Sheffield’s City Hall.
Fireworks sees Prowse and his bandmates trade solo melodies. Polite applause breaks up as quickly as it starts as the band launches into their next number, Takin’ On The World.
Prowse is the perfect foil for Costello in his style as you can hear plenty of Costello’s vocal style in Prowse’s. There are also several common themes in both of these great songwriters’ arsenal.
The whole set is paced quickly so as to fit in the maximum amount of tracks in the short thirty-minute slot.
‘Good evenings’ enable a little break in the pace of the set. Prowse discusses his daughter who is named after the Bruce Springsteen song Rosalita. Apparently she complains about this name but Prowse retorts by telling her she’s lucky…”you were nearly called Born To Run!”
Here I Lie is introduced as a song that showcases that music can defeat death itself. It’s slower intro shifts to a quicker pace and reaches grand proportion. The male/female vocal trade off works superbly.
A quick “Ta” ensues before Prowse introduces the next number as one for anyone out there with a broken heart. There is a beautiful violin melody with a real Celtic feel at the start of Home. In addition, the raw edge in Prowse’s voice resonates; it is wonderfully passionate.
A little more patter comes in the form of Prowse sharing a dream he had where he was visited by Joe Cocker. “Joe Cocker came to me in a dream. He said, you’re gonna be Elvis Costello guest in 2020. I’m going to find you the best two musicians to play with.” You can’t argue with the quality on show.
Picking up his electric guitar, Prowse showcases the jig like Name And Number. Encouragement for the crowd to clap along is offered.; they duly oblige. Prowse continues the dream narrative through band introductions of his sublime live trio.
The enthusiasm, smiles and camaraderie on stage are evident. On a personal note, I would have loved to have heard a few more tracks from Prowse, but when your brief is to warm up the crowd, he passed with flying colours. To have a crowd eating out of the palm of your hand within thirty minutes as a support act is brilliant.
To close out his set, Prowse showcases one of his finest songs; Does This Train Stop on Merseyside. It is wrought with emotion and is immensely catchy. Prowse dedicates the song to anyone that has realised you shouldn’t buy a certain newspaper. This dedication and the end of the song are greeted with a superb, and well-deserved ovation.
Photography by Mike Ainscoe. You can find more of Mike’s work on the At The Barrier Facebook page.