John O’ Connell, Gig Review. The Palm House, Sefton Park, Liverpool.
L.S. Media Rating *****
The Palm House that resides within the comfort of Sefton Park provided the perfect setting for John O’ Connell, Liverpool’s own urban troubadour, to perform to an audience that simply was blown away by him and his excellent set of musicians.
The setting may be slightly unconventional, the backdrop not the usual fare for John’s fans who feast on his weekly nights out at O’ Neill’s but the sound John was able to able to get across to the assembled crowd was simply magnificent. Not that should come as any surprise to anyone at all, as the man who was part of the legendary Liverpool band Groundpig has one of the finest voices in the city and when accompanied by drummer Samantha Lubin, Lisa Arthur on vocals, Adam Dawson on piano, James Meall on bass, the incredibly talented Jo Pue on vocals and fiddle, it was not so much the city singer’s musings but psalms from the Palm House.
John opened the night with That’s What I Want and from there anyone who hadn’t seen John O’ Connell before was entranced by the playing, the simple delicate beauty that he always manages to accomplish, whether it’s in the beautiful setting of the Palm House, on the steps of St. George’s Hall to thousands of Liverpool fans or even taking time out to go in to a University radio station, he always seems to give 100 per cent and have a smile on his face whilst playing.
The evening was made up of two sets, the various members of the band coming and going on stage for the duration of the show but each one being appreciated for their enormous contribution to an excellent evening. The differing vocal styles of Jo Pue and Lisa Arthur was technically superb and on Spanish Boots the resounding sound that was produced was moving as it was superb.
There are some venues in Liverpool that really capture the sound perfectly, whether it has been designed that way such as the Philharmonic Hall or by the weight of history that seems to bring out the best of a performer such as The Cavern, in the Palm House, its seems natural and with tunes such as I’m Just Like Him, It’s Tickin, the splendid Honey Pot and the beautiful Out On The Vine being placed throughout the set list, it’s no wonder that the music was so well appreciated that people made the most of the setting and danced as if they had been struggling to keep in the emotions that the band were purveying.
An excellent night of music, a tremendous success in one of the more unusual venues for music in Liverpool and it showcased John O’ Connell at his very, very best.
Ian D. Hall