Merry Hell Acoustic / Merry Hell Electric / Anthony John Clarke / Jenny Colquitt – Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room – 22nd April 2023
A 9hr 45-minute event, 5 performances, two venues, one group discussion on human vulnerability and a singaround – sign me up!
The inaugural MerryMeet, a Liverpool Acoustic event, was held on 22nd April 2023, at the Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room and the nearby Casa Bar. Some might question the band’s sanity for agreeing to perform two full-length shows and a mini-gig/fan forum in between, but those people clearly haven’t witnessed the boundless energy that Merry Hell bring to each and every one of their performances.
MerryMeet kicked off with a fantastic performance from the legendary folk comedian, Anthony John Clarke. With his witty Belfast humour and keen observations, he had the audience laughing uncontrollably. To avoid becoming a target of his quick-witted remarks, I made sure to keep a safe distance at the back of the room!
Audience suitably warmed, Merry Hell in acoustic format took to the stage and immediately had the packed out room swaying with wild abandon. A few new songs were introduced including the superbly sultry Only Love and the optimistically defiant Louder Than War.
During the first Covid lockdown, John Kettle was inspired to write Beyond The Call as his heartfelt response and tribute to the NHS. John created the Social Isolation Choir formed of voice recordings made by key workers from around the UK. For the forthcoming recording of Louder Than War John has set his sights even higher and is forming a Social Inclusion Choir of over 1,000 voices – the audience at the Music Room providing the first couple of hundred voices for the project.
Acoustic gig completed, the band and audience decamped to Casa bar for part two of the day which comprised a Q&A and concluded with the traditional folk club singaround. The Q&A tackled such emotive subjects as paranormal experiences, the vulnerability of being a performer and the very popular lockdown livestream Camping With The Kettles.
The evening festivities commenced with Jenny Colquitt’s first performance at the Music Room. It’s becoming the norm when Jenny is in support, to casually observe the unsuspecting audience as it is stunned into silence at the sheer gravitas of her set, with more than a few tears shed and overhearing comments about what a great musician/singer she is.
Merry Hell in full electric configuration then took to the stage for the final time, they were ably assisted by the standing audience and it would be fair to say that they absolutely smashed it. For me the highlight was the triptych of Lizard On A Log, Vagabond Army and all my prayers were answered when the axe was wielded for Three Little Lions.
Lizard On A Log made it’s first appearance at Knutsford in late 2022 and was the result of Simon’s late-night insomnia whilst staying with John and Virginia, who own the aforementioned reptilian. If lizard wrangling is half as fun as this tune then you will find me at the local exotic pet shop first thing tomorrow morning.
Vagabond Army is Bob Kettle’s latest masterpiece, I had the privilege of hearing it during rehearsals a few weeks ago and was itching to hear it again in front of a live audience and it most certainly did not disappoint. A reliable measure of a great Merry Hell tune is the ferocity of Andrew’s dancing, and it’s safe to say that he did not hold back.
The first MerryMeet concluded with the obligatory trio of Bakers Daughter, One More Day and Let The Music Speak For Itself (incidentally, also the title of their upcoming CD collection – watch out for our review) – the day was a fantastic success and Liverpool Philharmonic were brilliant hosts – I won’t be the only person hoping that this can become a regular event.
Merry Hell continue their never-ending tour in May at the Tredegar House Festival, before heading on to Doncaster, Cromer, London and Chester.
Categories: Live Reviews