at Huntingdon Hall, Worcester * * * *
Review by Chris Field
Rolling Stone magazine once said that "music would be a very different place if it hadn't been for Roger McGuinn".
On the evidence of his 80-minute performance in one of Worcester's most striking venues, nobody could possibly dispute the fact.
Making an entrance from the dressing room playing the opening chords of Mr Tambourine Man, it was clear that he was playing to an adoring audience who had come to see a master at work.
With such a vast back catalogue to draw from, the question was always going to be what was going to be left out, rather than what would he play. All of the Byrds classics were included such as Chestnut Mare, Turn, Turn, Turn, Ballad Of Easy Rider and So You Wanna Be A Rock And Roll Star, but for me the highlights included Wasn't Born To Follow, You Ain't Going Nowhere and an absolutely glorious Goin' Back which was delicate and fragile in its beauty.
These days, McGuinn delivers most of his set sitting down playing his Martin 7 string acoustic and it has the effect of being a real living room experience – almost as if he is singing just for you.
What really helps is the extraordinary setting of Huntingdon Hall, which is perfect for an artist like Roger McGuinn, surrounded as he is by living history and personality.
This was also reflected in his patter in between songs as he took the audience through a largely chronological journey of his career and introduced them to some of the folk tunes featured on his latest work The Folk Den Project.
Ever the professional, he paced the set well, bringing it to a climax with "a song that features some Coltrane, some Shankar and some Segovia, just for fun". McGuinn then delivered a truly astonishing Eight Miles High complete with wonderful solos taking in all the elements of the three composers.
A remarkable tour de force.
A word also must be given to Jade Gallagher who supported. This Liverpool-born singer gave the audience a taste of her talent with a short set of largely self penned material, beautifully sung and played. She did include a lovely slow version of Tracks Of My Tears as well as closing with the Goo Goo Dolls' Iris.
Gallagher has her first album released early next year on Easy Money Records and on the evidence of this performance would be well worth keeping an eye on for the future.