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Friday, February 16, 2018

Zoë Gilby & Andy Champion @ Empty Shop, Durham - Feb 15

Zoë Gilby (vocals) & Andy Champion (double bass)
(Review by Russell).
It was cold. See photo of Zoë and Andy togged-up. At one point, Andy considered playing with his gloves on! Durham’s Empty Shop was a tad cad. The bar was warm enough with the door closed and a heater working overtime. A bottle of Pavlov’s Dog (Yes, Master…), ‘hello’ to Carlo and co.

Empty Shop’s performance space was cold. A heater, fixed to the ceiling, going full blast, directed warm air down onto a vacant seat below. Your reviewer claimed the seat – someone had to. Mine! All Mine! This was a first gig at Durham’s quirky venue for the Zoë Gilby-Andy Champion duo. First impressions? They liked it. Everyone does. 

West Coast Blues then Graceland then Goodbye Pork Pie Hat: Vocalist Zoë referenced the Nancy Wilson take on Wes Montgomery (lyrics by Sascha Burland), recalled singing Paul Simon as a duo at a friend’s wedding, then Mingus’ salute to Lester Young. Three tunes in, the audience loved it.

Andy thought it time to brave shirt sleeve-order, Zoë wasn’t having any of it, for now. The Gershwin songbook offered Nice Work If You Can Get It, a tune in complete contrast, Nick Cave’s dark, sinister Red Right Hand found Zoë completely immersed in both lyric and performance, then on to another heavyweight musician, John Martin and Solid Air, his dedication to Nick Drake. Voice and bass duo partnerships aren’t exactly thick on the ground, and making the format work can’t be easy, but Zoë and Andy have established a concert standard programme and it works anywhere – be it an empty shop or concert hall.  

Our Love is Here to Stay, then some Kate Bush, then Monk – Straight No Chaser. The Monk held the audience rapt with virtuosic vocals and bass playing winning loud applause. Andy took his bass for a walk on A Weaver of Dreams and Zoë’s amazing vocal dexterity on Tom Waits’ Way Down in the Hole was (and is always) a highlight of their set. An enjoyable, if cold, evening.              
Russell

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