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'London, The Islington, 28 November 2018'   

-  Genre: 'Alt/Country'

Our Rating:
This week seemed to be about acts who are claiming to be at the end of the road in one way or another. In Dan Stuart's case, the current tour is to promote "The Unfortunate Demise Of Marlowe Billings" the Album and Novel that Dan has stated will be his final album as he no longer thinks the album has a future.

This very cool triple bill was performed without breaks between the acts and in fact started with the three of them on stage for the opening song of the night: a cover of the Lou Reed classic Vicious that they had just started singing when I arrived at about ten past eight, by which time the The Islington was already rammed to capacity.

Then Sid and Dan left Tom onstage for his solo set. That began with Alright, which sounded damn good even just on an acoustic guitar. Tom's set was mainly songs of his most recent album Show Business, Baby and the first song from the album he played was Baby Let Me In, featuring some very cool lyrics and just enough begging and pleading.

Then he was singing about his day job working as a bouncer in a bar in San Francisco on In The Night Time World and some of the people he has to deal with. The next song, Time And Money, had one of the best lines anyone came out with all night: "If Time was money I'd be a millionaire." Yes, the song lived up to having a line that good in it.

Tom then got the packed room to sing along to the chorus of Out West and just about everyone obliged before he told us a good tale of Hitchhiking across America in the early 1980's: a proper On The Road style song. Tom then made lots of us nostalgic on Etch A Sketch which was a toy I'd guess most of the audience had played with at some point or other.

We then got nicely pilled up on Black Molly, all about the people who are on the Black Molly's Blue Hearts and White Crosses with a chorus that sounded like the street dealer rapping out his menu. A very cool song indeed.

Tom closed his solo set with a very cool version of Woody Guthrie's Vigilante Man, a song that seems sadly far more relevant than it should in this day and age.

Heyman then passed the baton to Sid "the Squid" Griffin as he calls himself these days on Social media. He opened with a majestic version of State Of Our Union to get everyone going and then spent his set switching between his acoustic Guitar, the mandolin and his very cool Signature Sid Griffin Banjo while making us all laugh and at times sing along with him a very cool and short set that concluded with a very cool version of the Coal Porters' The Day The Last Ramone Died.

Then it was time for Dan Stuart and Tom Heyman to replace Sid and Dan's set opened with Love & Danger as Dan did his best to make us all cry as the tale unfolded. As usual, Dan was entertaining us all in-between songs with some very cool asides and little stories and as ever the Joke's On Me both as a song title and in the way he always tells great self-deprecating stories.

The two guitars wrung plenty of emotion out during Why I Ever Married you as Dan wondered is love the answer? well it's better than fighting, that's for sure. Last Century Blues becomes more nostalgic by the week at the moment as many of us dream of living in the simpler times of the 20th century.

The emotions are running high again on Love So Rare, which is beautiful and yearning and at the same time full of regret for what eventually went wrong with the love of Dan's life. Still, Gringo Go Home was introduced as being the song the Mexican authorities would rather Dan didn't sing but Dan can't help but tell this immigrant's tale once more and this time no caravans are involved even if he is currently living in one in Tucson.

The Day William Holden Died is for me one of the best songs on Dan's Marlowe Billings albums: a magnificent song that they more than do justice too. El Hoyo is where Dan apologises for how misogynistic his lyrics are as those beautifully played guitars coax the emotion out of the song.

Then it's time for Dan to sing about his hometown of Tucson and how he won't ever go back to Tucson, though of course he has just moved back to help look after his parents. They then get nice and angry on How Every Empire Falls and I think most of us are hoping an empire or two falls very soon indeed at the moment.

They brought Sid Griffin back on stage with his Mandolin for a great sing along to Hair Of The Dog and the Green On Red hits kept on coming with a great version of Zombie for Love that again had everyone singing the chorus. Damn, it sounded great and just rough enough around the edges.

Before Old Chief Dan told Sid which key it was in and then they were off and damn it sounded great even if it's sad that it's still such a relevant story. Then, after many thanks to everyone for showing up they finished with a mass sing along to Cheap Wine to make sure they left with everyone smiling and happy after a very cool show.
  author: simonovitch

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