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Acapela Studio
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Luke Jackson Trio concert review

Luke Jackson concert reviewI’ve seen some excellent shows over the last few years at Acapela Studios. But the one I was privileged to attend on Saturday 11th May was one of THE Best Gigs I have ever seen there.
The musicians who were performing were The Luke Jackson Trio – who consist of Luke Jackson on Vocals and acoustic guitar, Andy Sharps on Bass & Vocals and Elliott Norris on Drums, Guitar & Vocals.
I have seen Luke at least once a year since he released his first album to critical acclaim in 2012 with the Martyn Joseph produced More Than Boys. In 2013, Luke was pipped to the post of the BBC Folk Horizon Award by fellow Singer/Songwriting youngster Blair Dunlop. And it has been my delight to see how both of these artists have grown both as songwriters and performers in the past 7 years. Tonight the Acapela belonged to Luke Jackson. And by God, he owned the venue!
Luke has the opportunity to play with Andy as a Duo or with Elliott added to create a trio. Tonight we are treated to the Trio performance.
Tonight Luke takes to the stage alone to perform a blistering version of Ain’t No Trouble which can be found on his trio album – This Family Tree. And he blows the audience away immediately. It’s remarkable how the strength and depth of his voice has increased in just the last year. Let alone since 2012.
You could literally feel the anticipation in the air as the audience realised what an evening they were in for. To rapturous applause, Andy and Elliott came to the stage and launched into a splendid version of Anything But Fate which morphs into the Motown classic, I heard It Through The Grapevine. Quite a leap I hear you Folk fans saying but not for this young man. Ever since his debut album, that voice has been his trademark and I hear as much Soul in hos voice as Folk. And thinking about it, one of the beauties of following both Luke and Blair Dunlop’s careers has been to see them shake off their Folk roots to become impressive Singer Songwriters who have the ability to move between genres. It’s a beautiful thing to see. And for me, Luke is now a Soul singer as much anything else.
To read the full review visit Nick Baker’s blog – Macwood Fleet

John Lennon UK – Concert review

John Lennon UK at Acapela Studios, Pentyrch, Cardiff on Saturday 4th May 2019.

If you are the biggest band of all time, you’re always going to generate some attention. The Beatles were probably the first band ever to have a serious ‘Tribute’ industry grow up around them. But then again, how many artists of any genre of the Arts have, within 10 years, changed the world, forever? What John, Paul, George & Ringo achieved in their 10 years together will probably never be repeated. To have 3 astonishing songwriters within one band will probably never happen again. The world is too ego-centric these days. So it was inevitable that The Beatles would kick start the ‘Tribute’ industry properly. There seem to be 100s of Beatles tribute artists around. Some exceptionally good, some exceptionally bad.
But it’s somewhat rarer to see a Tribute dedicated to the individual members. So, it was with some enthusiasm that I booked tickets to see Gaz Keenan bring his John Lennon Tribute Show to my favourite venue, Acapela Studios.
Armed with just an acoustic guitar, Gaz came to the mic alone and launched the gig with a splendid version of Working Class Hero.
I’ll lay my stall out straight away here. I like a decent tribute act. As long as they don’t try and imitate the artists concerned. I’m more about hearing these great songs being played live once again. I don’t want an imitator. And to his credit, despite the fact that he dresses in the Lennon guise, it is a SHOW after all, Gaz uses his own voice to sing the songs of Lennon. Yes, he uses Lennon’s inflections sometimes, but that’s ok. It’s the vibe and the passion and in Lennon’s case the humour that I’m looking for. And tonight Gaz and the band deliver it beautifully. Right, now that’s out of the way, let me discuss the evening.
To see the full review visit the Macwood Fleet blog.

“Glory, Glory Tottenham Hotspur”

You never know who you may bump into when you visit Acapela Studio when buying tickets – as the studio is visited by many famous musicians!

With the new Spurs ground officially being opened recently with a huge celebration event, who else would they want singing but Welsh singer Wynne Evans. As part of the build up to the event Wynne came into the studio to record  “Glory, Glory Tottenham Hotspur” the celebration opening song with Lanya Matthews.

After last nights win against Manchester City perhaps we can expect to see him again – to record a song for the Champions League Final in Madrid – the Spanish would love him!


Never the Bride – concert review

Never the Bride Cardiff PentyrchWhat’s great about live music is that sometimes a great musical performance surprises you when you just did not see it coming. Having not seen Never the Bride live before I had no expectations as to what to was about to unfold, but the excitement evident from members of the Acapela audience who had, should have warned me we were about to experience something very special.

Last weekend Never the Bride hit the Acapela stage and brought us an energetic, powerful and often emotional concert that had the audience stunned by its brilliance. Oh and it’s fair to say also a night of some comedy as the pair delivered an amusing string of great stories from their “Rock and Roll” career.

The opening number, an amazing rendition of the Rolling Stones “Sympathy for the Devil” certainly had the audience entranced and from there on you could sense the expectation building in the crowd.

Never the Bride with Nikki Lamborn (vocals) and Catherine “Been” Feeney (piano, guitar, vocals) ably supported by drums and lead guitar ( who also provided some incredible guitar solos) provided a first set combining  their  wonderful original material, which was equally as powerful as the other covers they play and which included a wonderful version of “Me and Bobby Mcgee” (Kris Kristofferson).

The first set was ended triumphantly with the bands tour de force “The Living Tree” written by the duo, which was a huge hit for Dame Shirley Bassey. “The Living Tree” was recorded by Dame Shirley for her 2007 album Get the Party Started. The album was produced by Lamborn and Feeney and that should tell you all you need to know about this duos musical standing.

Nikki’s infectious sense of humour was evident here as she told the story of how they managed to get a CD of the song to the welsh legend by leaving it at reception in the gym Dame Shirley frequents in Monaco! The Living Tree performance was phenomenal and you could hear the audience gasp when the final chords were left floating in the high spaces in the chapel! Absolutely stunning, one of the best individual song performances Acapela has ever heard.

A drink or two later and the audience excitedly returned back to their seats with the band continuing their comedic performance introducing the singalong “Don’t Trudge Mud in The House of Love”. Nikki’s powerful vocals pack a real punch and this with her strong stage presence makes the concert a visual as well as audible feast!

But not to be outdone, Been’s performance on piano provides a real driving force to the whole proceedings and when she steps out from behind the grand piano to play the guitar and  take lead vocals you get to really understand this really is a team effort!

The second set continues at some pace and sees David’s Bowie’s Life on Mars performed effortlessly and with such great passion – resulting in rapturous applause from the audience. If I thought it could not get better I was wrong as the band perform two of their own powerful compositions Tiger Bay and April Rain closing the second set to a well deserved standing ovation.

All in all a night of music that I will remember for some time, for both the superb individual performances but also for the amazing powerful performance of the whole band which gave one of the most exciting concerts Acapela has seen for sometime. “Ladies of Rock” I salute you!

Paul James – Programme Director, Acapela Studio

Set List


SET 2.


Moya Brennan concert – Review

A return visit to Acapela for Moya Brennan and her band on Sunday night, and another sell out for the venue.

Moya, on vocals, harp and bodhran was accompanied by her four piece band consisting of her daughter Aisling on guitars and vocals with son Paulon keyboards. Both are excellent musicians as you would expect. Fiddler and vocalist Clare Friel is a winner of the Irish young musician of the year competition. Completing the band is harpist and vocalist Cormac De Barra with whom Moya has released several albums. Keeping things in the family, very Clannad style, her husband Tim is the tour manager and driver, her nephew on the merchandise stall, and other crew duties.

We were promised a mix of solo songs and some from Clannad, also receiving one from the forthcoming album by Moya and Cormac. The first set concentrated mainly on the solo and duo albums, Moya explaining what the songs were about as many were in Gaelic. Titles included Children Of War, Tara, Mothers of the Desert and the set closer Voices Of The Land. Aisling took the lead for one of her own compositions, the others taking a spotlight in the second set. The sound was excellent, at times very fragile, easy to hear any audience chat or other noises. There were none to hear from the attentive audience I am very happy to say.

The second set included several Clannad pieces, all very faithfull to the group versions I remember seeing live in places like St David’s Hall. In A Lifetime opened the set, with, a surprise to me, Christine McVie’s Songbird following it up. A great song and a grat voice combining for a great performance. Clare for her solo chose a Scott Skinner tune with a traditional Irish piece following. A medley of slow and fast. The Robin Hodd series music is probably the best known of Clannad’s music to many, though tonight’s audience appeared to be much more knowledgeable. The Robin medley that followed included four of the pieces from the album. Cormac for his spotlight chose O’Carollan’s……. beautifully played and well received.

A couple more songs, one for the encore and it was all over. Two hours of music seemingly so quickly having passed by. Here’s to another return visit.

Review by Ian Burgess

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