Review: Andy White at the Queen’s Head, Belper

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By Ed Sills

As 21st Century Troubadour Andy White struck the chords of his worn old guitar you could almost hear his feet far away beat down upon the cobbled pavements of European cities and taste the drink of neon drenched American bars.

And that same romantic wanderlust was weaved into the narrative of each song and spoken word scribbling White used to entertain us with during his two set gig at the Top bar on Saturday evening.

Starting slowly with Twelfth of July and breakthrough hit Religious Persuasion, White used the first couple of songs to provide us with an insight into his turbulent life growing up in Belfast during the 70s.

He was then joined on stage by his sister Cathy for Looking for James Joyce’s Grave. Actress and teacher Cathy White, who will be performing with Andy on all the dates of his current tour, has sung with him since his 1985 album Rave on Andy White. Her voice, full of whispered Celtic charm, harmonised with White’s own to add a depth to their sound.

White broke up the sets with two witty readings from his recent book, 21st Century Troubadour. The first was about the Sisyphean task of hauling his travel bag from place to place whilst the second, which used a Los Angeles bar as a back drop, played hard on the funnies and made brilliant use of Cathy’s voice to hammer home the punch-lines.

Sadly, there were a few points in the evening when the audience seemed underwhelmed. Whilst pleasant, White’s set had a tendency to veer dangerously close to AOR on songs like Speechless and Start All Over Again.

No-one was expecting a heavy metal guitar solo or anything, but a little bit more punch wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Gripes aside, with a literary warmth and an eye ever on the next destination Andy White proved that even after ten albums he still had plenty more stories left to tell.

Lets hope it’s not too long before his next visit to Derbyshire.