Neil Halstead, Matthew P @ City Screen Basement, York – 14/11/12

The City Screen in York looks like any other cinema on the outside (apart from being shielded from the street by Roman wall that is) with tonights showing of ‘Skyfall’ sold out…..but inside there’s a trendy looking bar and in it’s basement there sits a lovely room that tonight played host to the wonderful Neil Halstead. It must only fit 40 paying customers in at most which made for an intimate atmosphere – perfect for his sublime guitar playing. Mark and I were lucky enough to attend.

Support was provided by Matthew P from Suffolk who also came on to play double bass with Neil on a few tunes. He had a good line in banter between songs and his guitar playing style was great – he even managed to play the tambourine with his foot…….but Mark had a problem with his enunciation “If you’re going to pronounce every ‘S’ as ‘Sh’ then you shouldn’t sing a song about ‘sitting on the beach’!”

I’d previously seen Neil Halsteads band ‘Mojave 3’ at the 2000 Leeds festival. That band helped me through a tough time in my life. In 1999 I was going through a divorce and I moved into Martins new house with Carl in Roundhay. It was a hub for other friends Mark, Kev, Davey to come round of an evening and we would have a few beers, get herbally refreshed, lie on one of the many sofa’s and listen endlessly to ‘Out of Tune‘ and later ‘Excuses for Travellers’ when it was released. A song called ‘Yer Feet‘ is always going to get a Podiatrist’s attention and with lyrics like “I was drunk when I met you, I was drunk when you walked out the door”…….what’s not to love.

Neil’s performance tonight had us dewey-eyed with nostalgia.

Neil’s musicianship is of the highest order – when he plays guitar you’d swear there were at last 2 playing. His voice is like silk and draws you in. I love this man! He asked for requests at which point we realised that whilst we knew all the songs off by heart – we didn’t know what many of them were called! “Return to Sender” I asked – “Can’t do that one” “You’re life in Art then?” “Ok, but I’ll have to down tune the guitar – made by a friend of mine who used to make surf boards”.

Loads of old faves and new tunes to explore – I can’t wait to see him again – just awesome!

Bob the Chiropodist

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