Phil Beer & Miranda Sykes
Miranda Sykes was confident on the back of her new CD, Bliss, and gave us great late-night vocals, accompanying herself on double bass.
She doesn’t have a soaring voice, but the way she uses it is intriguing, exploring traditional jazz and cabaret forms and allowing a subtle mastery of tones to dictate the pace and timing of her songs.
I would have been happy to see and hear more from her.
Phil Beer seems able to play anything with strings and the backdrop of instruments lining the stage barely leaves room for him when he is finally introduced. He opens the gig with the JJ Cale song, Cocaine, and then goes on to explain that it was the song he first played in public at the age of 12 at his local parent/teachers meeting . . . He’s an accomplished musician, but also a very funny man.
He tells a joke about a young recruit in the first world war who can take no more gassing and brutality and watching his mates die one after the other. The lad throws down his weapon, turns his back on the enemy and runs. He doesn’t look back, but runs on, through his exhaustion until, eventually, the sounds of battle no longer even a distant hum, he falls to the ground and sleeps.
When he wakes he sees, in front on him on the earth, a pair of highly polished officers boots, and he hears a voice coming from above. ‘What are you doing here?’
‘Oh, I’m sorry, major,’ says the lad. ‘I couldn’t take any more. I watched my friends being shot, I saw them being gassed, it was carnage, it was terrible, I just ran and ran. I’m sorry, major, I’m really sorry.’
‘I’m not a major,’ says the voice. ‘I’m a general.’
”Oh, my God,’ says the young deserter. ‘I didn’t think I’d run that far.’
Beer runs through an idiosyncratic list of songs, following Cocaine with a couple of Irish ballads, George Harrison’s Here comes the Sun on a Ukulele, Tom Lehrer’s I Hold Your Hand in Mine, and a first-world-war-medley.
Later, with Miranda Sykes accompanying on vocals and double bass, he gave us heart-stopping renditions of The Hollies’ Bus Stop and Paul Simon’s Still Crazy.
So, all in all, then, a night to remember.