You are hereLive Review: Ruth Notman - Drill Hall, Lincoln
Live Review: Ruth Notman - Drill Hall, Lincoln
I arrived at the Drill Hall in Lincoln earlier than expected, having negotiated a traffic-free A57, just about all the way. Sitting in the Armoury Cafe Bar, waiting to grab a coffee, still seething after having to pay twice in the 24 hour car park next door due to a mixture of bad eyesight and poor lighting (note to self: press the yellow button first for night parking you fool), I was privileged to hear some sweet piano tunes filtering through from the main hall. Ah, I thought, that would be young Ruth Notman in there, giving the soundman an easy job tonight no doubt.
If you've ever had the good sense to buy a ticket for a Ruth Notman gig, you will notice it comes with a guarantee that you will get two very definite things for your money. Firstly you will encounter a chirpy Nottinghamshire lass with a beaming smile and an infectious sense of fun; you feel that much of what she says has just popped into her head a microsecond before. Secondly, you will hear one of the most distinctive voices on this or any other music scene for that matter. Her debut album 'Threads' made everyone sit up and listen from the likes of Kate Rusby, Kate Rusby's number one fan Mike Harding, Bob Harris, Colin Irwin and John Tams, whose recommendations should never be taken lightly.
Accompanying herself on guitar and piano, Ruth played a few of the songs from the album in a faultless performance tonight at the Drill Hall. Opening with the unaccompanied and timely seasonal song "The Holland Handkerchief", learned from the singing of another great Northern voice, Norma Waterson, Ruth was in no hurry to get through this set. Composed and seemingly relaxed, taking a few seconds to gather herself before each song, Ruth went on to sing some of the most memorable songs from her debut, "Billy Don't You Weep for Me", "Fause Fause", "Cruel Sister" and the quirky yet brilliant "Limbo", which Ruth still sort of apologises to Eliza Carthy for. No need, Ruth's version is a folk classic in its own right. What makes Ruth so special is that she has the ability to take a song like Dougie Maclean's "Caledonia", already a much loved and definitive statement, then make it her own.
The side of Ruth Notman that has only been marginally tapped into is her writing ability. The album contains three of her own compositions, one of which was written for a school project. "Lonely Day Dies" is a beautiful song with or without the Westlife key change (without tonight), and the recorded version has one of the defining moments on the album, courtesy of Saul Rose's beautifully underplayed melodeon. Ruth is hoping to take some time out soon to deliver an eagerly anticipated Threads II, and this reviewer is hoping for some new originals, as well as rewarding some established songs with a Ruth Notman makeover.
Tonight, the audience was having none of it. There was no way Ruth was going to be allowed to leave the stage after her allotted spot was up and she returned to sing the aptly titled Richard Thompson song "Farewell, Farewell", which I'm sure would have Sandy Denny raising a pint of beer to, wherever she is.
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