DIMBLEBY & CAPPER / SAINT SAVIOUR – O2 Academy, Birmingham 27th April 2011

When I was being interviewed by Kyle on the ‘Breakfast Show’ recently, Colleen posted a question asking me to name my ‘dream’ band line-up. I gave this some thought before answering; but Saint Saviour sharing vocals with Grace Slick and Dimbleby & Capper on ‘twiddly bits’ a la Brian Eno in the original Roxy Music line-up were amongst the first names that came to mind. When Dimbleby & Capper posted notification of her supporting for Saint Saviour, I couldn’t think of many valid reasons not to try to catch that ‘dream’ gig! For the record I suppose I should complete the line-up: Jimi Hendrix – guitar / Stanley Clarke – bass / Stevie Winwood – keyboards Miles Davis – trumpet / Amy ‘AlteredSky’ Blair – drums.

For a change it wasn’t the A1 – a very pleasant drive in the sunshine on A7 then M6, with a stop at the stunning Killingworth Lake Services and my Sat Nav ‘deposited ’ me in a sun-drenched Victoria Square for my first visit to Birmingham. After a false start at one hotel that wouldn’t accept me as a guest as I had no ‘photo’ ID, I soon found an altogether nicer one, with its own car park. When registering I asked for directions to the O2 Academy, “that’s it there” said the receptionist as she pointed to the building across the road!

I arrived promptly at the venue and was soon inside listening to a selection of Fleetwood Mac blues tracks, including an old favourite ‘Green Manalishi’. I’ve previously noted that I prefer smaller venues and this certainly fitted the bill, being around 15 metres square. Having seen a photo of the crowd at Saint Saviour’s Monday gig at King Tuts, I was expecting a good turn out here. Sadly this wasn’t the case and Dimbleby & Capper came on to play to a “very intimate” audience. The attendance had absolutely no bearing on the quality of presentation and once the set had started I paid no further heed to anything other than the performance. The set was a varied mix of tracks that I have previously played on air – ‘Structure’, Want This’ and ‘Let You Go’ blended with a few that were new to me. Sadly no airing of Laura’s “little monster” ‘Bad Head’ but a surprising and excellently executed cover of ‘Then He Kissed Me’ (The Crystals) more than compensated! I know some people who are sceptical of the sampling / loop station / computer manipulation technique but I remain convinced in the validity of this approach to performing when it is so expertly done – it’s a completely different skill set from that required to play traditional instruments but there is no doubt that it is a real skill and to see and hear Dimbleby & Capper in solo mode is absolutely mesmerising! When I first saw her at ‘The Gramaphone’ she told me that I would enjoy seeing her perform with her ‘band’ – I don’t doubt this for a second, but in the absence of that, a solo performance will certainly do for me. All too soon it was over, but the memories are sure to remain for a long time to come.

With so little in the way of equipment to clear away and set up it wasn’t long before Saint Saviour and her band appeared and got the second half of the night underway with the haunting ‘Red Sun Rising’ (complete with fan), a Japanese sounding song in recognition of the horrors facing Japan following the recent disasters there. As expected the set was a brilliant showcase for Becky’s wonderful voice and fluid dance moves, spanning a multitude of tonal and rhythmic variations. There was recent single ‘Woman Scorned’, from the ‘Anatomy’ EP ‘This Ain’t No Hymn’ and also from 2008, the wonderfully evocative ‘Fallen Trees’. Finally the last number was introduced “for all the girls”, the astounding Generate Radio favourite ‘Birdsong’ complete with all its driving tribal beats.

And just when I thought it was all over, a return to play a another Generate Radio favourite, ‘Reasons’, including a ‘shout’ in the introduction for me for travelling so far! Without a doubt, an evening to cherish and remember for a long time. With no concerns about having to get away to travel far, it was great to also be able to spend some time afterwards briefly chatting to both Laura and Becky before a leisurely stroll back to the hotel.

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