Pete Roe, Timber Timbre and Laura Marling at The Sage, 05/03/12

First on, Pete Roe stood lonely atop the sea of stage and twiddled some fine tunes on his guitar. Stranding straight, Roe was the musician equivalent of the guy you take home to meet the parents. He was sweet, unassuming, and all too nice. Perhaps this is why he didn’t stand out so much as the haunting second act. His lyrics, often the bland “won’t you be mine” entreaties, lacked something of a passion.

His skill on the guitar, however, guarantees that he won’t always be an opening act or a background player in Marling’s band. No, his intricate hand movements coaxing sweet melodies reassured us, once he learns to put his foot down, shake his mane of hair out a bit, and really tell us what he’s thinking, he’ll find the stage his home.

Timber Timbre made the oddest of juxtapositions following this mellow act. Usually a band, in Newcastle that night it was a lone man who took the mic as in the middle of the darkened stage, Taylor Kirk sat alone in his chair. With his confident,  dramatic voice, the swampy, jagged blues that tumbled from the storyteller’s mouth lent an eerie air. Broken up by humorous one-line banter, Timber Timbre’s set was reminiscent of a more melodic Tom Waits with honest, spooky undertones similar to The Three Penny Opera.

Lethargic, swampy tones from his effect-laden guitar weaved a mesmerising, disarming atmosphere, disturbed only by his distinctive vocals (imagine a drunk, disillusioned Elvis impersonating Johnny Cash). The absence of the tracks’ regular accompaniment did not detract; if anything the stripped-back, reverb-driven rendition of ‘Creep On Creepin’ On‘ felt better than the EP arrangement, whilst ‘Lonesome Hunter’ and ‘Bad Ritual’ introduced a darker edge to the spooky mood, reinforced perfectly by the deliberately dingy lighting.. Time became unimportant as Kirk meandered through his set, pitching the pace perfectly, with all the world-weariness and lyrical heartache of Leonard Cohen.

Though both opening acts were solo acts, leaving the songs feeling a bit similar near the end, by the time Laura Marling came on they had managed to give the stage a history for the audience. All of their songs worked to slowly take the audience into another softer, more intimate world. Without really noticing it, by the time Marling stepped up, the audience found themselves without the anchors of reality tying them down. Perhaps it was too long spent in a darkened room, but the orderly tiers of seats, the strong wood panelling, and even the recent view of the stone Newcastle bridges, melted away beneath their sure melodies.

Even so, we were unprepared for Laura Marling’s stunning vocals in her opening song, ‘I Was Just A Card’. Her recordings don’t do her justice. This is neither meant to insult nor to ingratiate, it is merely a quirk of honest talent. Surrounded by her band as the rose in a garden of tulips, they lent her the twang, horn, and strum to effortlessly colour in the pictures she spun for us with her voice made of gold. Between the grassy banjo, the poignant cello, and American-lilted croons, her songs felt both traditional folk and western country.

She didn’t leave the audience waiting, and in between kind anecdotes, she was back to singing earnestly in a sweet Anais Mitchell-esque manner. She and the band played with a harmony that lit up the stage more than the beams streaming down on them. Of course, ‘Goodbye England’ was the breath-taking song that left the audience hushed and completely enthralled. The sentimental song stirred the audience and as personal as it was, it felt as if emotions were sweeping over us, seeping in under our clothes and soaking us in her vision.

For someone so young, she was able to convey wisdom beyond her years, and lyrics, found in ‘Blackberry Stone’, such as “You never did learn to let little people grow”, filled up to the high roof and settled around us with the power of her sound and its wisdom. Her aged voice and tried character was reminiscent of Joni Mitchell, and the promise of a long career stretches out ahead of her. With performances like this, success and adoration is inevitable, and we are lucky to have her at what is surely just the beginning of her musical calling.

4 thoughts on “Pete Roe, Timber Timbre and Laura Marling at The Sage, 05/03/12

  • I would’ve written exactly the same about Timber Timbre. I can’t really imagine seeing him without the rest of the band, he was so good alone.

    Reply
  • He’s shot to the top of my must-see list now after all the praise!

    Reply
  • This is the second review I’ve read quoting the “won’t you be mine” lyrics of Pete Roe. Pete thematically returns to that line in a few songs but it must be stated that his lyrics are fantastic.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pENP8qXkJE
    After all the ebb and flow of BacchanaliaAnd the trials and tribulations of the fairAfter all the midnight ramblersThe schemers and the gamblers
    There’s still a strange kind of mystery in the air.Since the melody broke through a little strongerAnd was recognised as Londonderry AirBy all the saints and sinners
    By the losers and the winnersThere’s still a strange kind of mystery in the airAs everyone was leaving for whereverWe sat there arguing on the stairAbout Free will and the cosmos – The burning wall at GlasnostThere’s still a strange kind of mystery in the air….This song is about ‘The Old Duke’ pub in Bristol.

    Reply

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