Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The New Mendicants at Mono, Glasgow

Last night I had the pleasure of watching one of musical heroes at very close quarters as Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) performed with his friend Joe Pernice (The Pernice Brothers) under the guise of The New Mendicants at Mono in Glasgow.

The warm summers evening generated a positive vibe even before Norman and Joe took the stage and told us of how they hooked up through a mutual friendship with the author Nick Hornby. Nick had challenged them to write music for a film based on his novel ‘A Long Way Down’. As the pair were neighbours in Canada (they both married Canadians) this seemed like a great wee project in between their day jobs.

It turns out that Hornby never used the songs, so Joe joked about them having an album about a lot of people jumping off the side of a building!

The album isn’t due out until January 2014, so this current tour was a chance to plug their Australia EP (recorded for their Australian tour earlier in the year) and for the pair of them to highlight what incredible songwriters and performers they are; taking it in turns on lead vocals as they ran through some highlights from their back catalogue, some New Mendicants numbers and a couple of covers.

The set up was simple, 2 acoustic guitars, 2 mics and a glockenspiel for Norman. Their voices were sweet, melancholic and utterly entwined in glorious harmonies. It really was a beautiful show and as my friend Lorna and I were standing at the side of the stage we were spellbound.

I have to confess to not knowing any of Joe’s material with the Pernice Brothers, but on the evidence of last night I will certainly be checking it out. Joe is a talented and confident songwriter and it was easy to see how he has bonded with Norman – similar sense of humour, musical taste and talent.

Norman delighted the crowd with a gorgeous solo rendition of ‘Did I Say’, dedicating it to his wife. There was also a delicate and emotional ‘Dark and Lonely’, a free flowing 'It's All In My Mind', a stunning stripped back ‘I Don’t Want Control Of You’ that really highlighted the lyrics about his daughter ‘every day I look at a different face, this feelings getting stronger with every embrace’, and the duo ended with a beautiful rendition of ‘Everything Flows’.

Apologies for not noting or remembering the titles of Joe’s songs. They also did a cover of a Zombies song called ‘Butchers Tale’ and a Go-Betweens song that sounded like it was unreleased from Norman's introduction - it was truly beautiful and a real highlight of the show. I hope they go on to record it.

All in all this was a magical demonstration of the songwriting skills of Blake and Pernice and I am really looking forward to the album and another live date in Glasgow.

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