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Blue Rose Code

The Live Room, Saltaire
Friday 4 March 2016

Following Angel Snow and Matthew Perryman Jones the second great gig in a week at The Live Room saw a return visit of Blue Rose Code (aka Ross Wilson). Last year Ross was accompanied by Lyle Watt on Guitar/Mandolin and Graham Coe on Cello. Changes this year saw a Ross with Lyle now titled 'Wild' Lyle Watt and his drummer John Lowrie, playing not drums but Keyboards and Accordian and earning the title 'Jazz Fingers' from Ross. As it was official launch day for Ross's new CD, AND LO, THE BIRD IS ON THE WING many of the songs played were from the new release. Ross has often been compared to John Martyn and Van Morrison so not surprisingly there was a wide diversity of tempo and mood. Some of 'Wild Lyles' guitar licks were worthy of comparison with John Platania furthering the Morrison comparisons. It was obvious from the start that both Blue Rose Code and the Saltaire audience were going to have a great night. With Lyle and John remaining seated throughout the gig Ross virtually bounced about the stage demonstrating both the range and power of his voice by moving in and away from the microphone for effect. Blessed with a wonderful voice that ranges from a sensual whisper to an angry growl Ross started the night with an extended jazz-tinged In The Morning Parts 1 and 2 (and possibly 3) from the new CD. A swirling piano intro from John and wonderful use of Ebow from Lyle to finish the song. During the night Lyle's use of Ebow was possibly the best I have ever heard. Most of the songs in Set 1 were from the new CD. Come The Springtime from debut album NORTH 10 neatly segued into Hugh MacDiarmids poem Scotland with Ross jokingly commenting on his the slick professional arrangement. Pokesdown Waltz, surely a contender for best break up/Divorce song of the last few years had a touching refrain of "My One Wish is I do wish I'd kissed you goodbye". Not content with playing new songs from the CD Ross sang an even newer unrecorded song Sandaig, named after the house of close friends in the North of Scotland . Ross finished the set with Oh North from BALLADS OF PECCKHAM  RYE. A song about the joys of travelling north, an alien concept to many southerners but there we go.

Another poem put to music opened the second set Acquainted With The Night by Robert Frost. Again very ethereal use of Ebow and guitar creating an atmosphere that reminded me of John Martyn's Small Hours from ONE WORLD. The transition to Silent Drums was pure John Martyn. There were many more familiar songs from earlier CDs in set 2. From Westeros to Nova Scotia and the immensely well received One Day at a Time and Ghost of Leith all featured. The musicianship on the night was tremendous. Ross half joked that it would be wise to get Lyles signature on CDs, on this gigs performance he wasn't kidding and if Johns main instruments are drums then I would love to see him live playing them as his Keyboards skill was quite something. The last song in the show the  energetic Julie was announced to audience dismay but Ross responded with a knowing wink.  Lyle played some wonderful Mandolin and the song had great audience participation in the closing chorus. A solo Ross took to Keyboards for the first encore song, a beautiful and sensitive song possibly titled I Don't Know How To Be In Love which was followed by a full trio rendition of Grateful weaving Shipley into the verses. Both Lyle and John demonstrating their musical chops during this song. It was very obvious that both the band and audience  had a great time. Ross stated that the Live Room was  a truly great venue and he paid further tribute to the audience by saying it was obvious the audience were discerning and genuine hard core music fans . AND LO...., is the third Blue Rose Code full length CD and they just keep getting better. Ross knows he will be welcome back for a third visit.

Keith Belcher
Northern Sky