Sunday, 24 June 2012

GIG REVIEW: Mark Morriss - Devizes Fringe Festival 23/06/2012

With some people at tables, others standing and a group sat on the floor at the front, this intimate setting is perfect for Mark Morriss to win over the hearts of more people with not only his great songs but also with his sharp wit and genuinely humorous charm. He's a humble, self mocking character, often becoming engaged in conversation with members of the audience in between numbers and raising countless laughs all night. A lot of people here are longtime fans of Mark's old band The Bluetones, others are here to see what's going on in this cramped upstairs room of a Devizes pub. One thing's for sure, everyone here enjoys it very much indeed. 

When he plays the classic 'Slight Return' it reveals that his voice is every bit as strong as it was all those years ago when it was a hit single. He also treats us to the striking new track 'Low Company', which is easily as good as anything The Bluetones ever produced. With its superb chorus and revealing lyrics, it's one hell of a tune, and has that rare gift of sounding so simple yet so stunning at the same time. It leaves the audience hungry to hear more new material, but towards the end this show is pretty much a small, crowded room full of people shouting out the names of their favourite Bluetones songs for Mark to play. In his own words he doesn't want to take it as far as becoming "a human jukebox" but taking requests from fans in such a warm, intimate setting works really well tonight and clearly Mark enjoys it as much as the audience do.

Later he plays an excellent rendition of Neil Young's 'Old Man' for a mate in the room who is celebrating his birthday, and plays the fine 'I Was A Teenage Jesus' at the request of an incredibly pleased fan. The acoustic version of 'Science And Nature' album track 'Slack Jaw' is brief but delivered brilliantly, and someone shouts out for an acoustic version of 'Mudslide'. "You mean that song with all the samples and loops in it?"... Obviously there are certain limitations when it comes to only being armed with an acoustic guitar and a voice. But some of the old tracks that people are used to hearing played by a full band actually sound more powerful when played in such a stripped back fashion, 'Sleazy Bed Track' being a prime example. 

Despite being in one of the most well loved and long-lasting indie bands of the 90's, here's a man who treats his audience like they are his friends and is as down to earth as singers can be. Judging by brilliant live shows like tonight and the strength of his new material, there is no reason why Mark Morriss shouldn't deserve even greater success as a solo artist.

Scroll down to watch a video of Mark Morris playing 'Old Man'...

Go HERE to read a gig review of Mark Morris in Portsmouth earlier this month, which also includes videos and better photos...

And go HERE to visit Mark's official website where you can download two new tracks for free, including the excellent 'Low Company'...

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