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Steve Kritzer at the Star. A lesson in stagecraft.

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Uncle Fester

Joined: 28 Jul 2009
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:23 am    Post subject: Steve Kritzer at the Star. A lesson in stagecraft.  Reply with quote

It's been a while since I visited the Star Club's magnificent Saint Andrews In The Square home and I'd quite forgotten what an impressive venue it is. The high ceiling catches the sound from the crystal clear PA system and gives it a wonderful soaring quality. This effect can sometimes intimidate a performer, but more often , as was apparent last night, it makes them sing!

Last night the opening floor spot was Maw, Paw, and the Wean, a trio from Irvine offering a standard fare selection of popular material from Matt McGinn amongst others. We've heard it all often enough, but rarely delivered so engagingly. Fine voices singing together and apparently uncontrived banter left  the audience well pleased. Much of their choice of material has been tarnished by guitar scrubbing pub singers down the years, and it was so refreshing to hear these songs performed well by people who care. Look out for Maureen, Dick and Willie at sessions and clubs. They're good value.

Slotted in at the last moment for a couple of fine self-penned songs to start the second half was Dunfermline's Gifford Lind who has an unnerving ability to pull an audience into his confidence. He can talk for Scotland but nobody seems to mind.

Steve Kritzer's another engaging fellow. He has a gentle style, obvious mastery of the guitar and mandolin, and a slightly sandy textured voice very reminiscent of Gordon Lightfoot or Magpie's Greg Artzner. He delivered two fine sets of songs from his own pen, and a few classics like “Don't Fence Me In”and “I'm my own grandpa”. I have to say I enjoyed him better when he was doing other people's material. His own songs had a sameness to them, I think borne of his constant use of open tuning which seems to push some songwriters into a place where the “signature” sound gives way to all the songs sounding very similar. Perhaps I'm jaded and being over picky. He's a skilled and engaging act, the audience loved him, and he deserved their love.

Last night then was about stagecraft. Everybody who performed had that in spades and the audience went home feeling as if they'd seen a show instead of an exhibition. Maybe I'm “Old School”, but in my book that's what a lot of folk music ought to be about.

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Rid Sonja

Joined: 09 Jun 2009
Posts: 369

PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was there last night too, Fester.  Hope to meet you sometime.

I didn't hear much of Maw, Paw and the Wean due to not arriving until 8.30 but I heard a group of people obviously enjoying themselves on-stage and engaging with the audience while they were doing so.

Steve Kritcher was a very nice performer, I thought.  He also was obviously enjoying the ambiance of the venue.  He's got a very gentle style of song writing which I liked but would have liked to have heard some stronger 'meat' delivered from his very sonorous and melodic and polished voice.  He told stories about how the ideas for his songs came to him, and a lot of the time the premise held a lot of promise.  However, for me, I found that the songs just sort of skimmed the surface of the real emotions that the ideas presented.  I probably look for more from songs than a lot of people though.  I'm not that interested in 'aw, the nice' kind of stuff, prefering instead songs like 'Hard Love' which talk about how hard love can be at times and that there are 'A (Many) Different Kind(s) of Love' song.

His song about the two girls who attended a music festival before returning home to bury their Mother could, I think, have been a great song, but he didn't confront the reality of grief and love juxtaposed by the festival music, in my opinion.  Especially nowadays when grieving is such a personal journey, when there is less proscribed 'ways of mourning' the story of how these two women confronted/avoided their grief could have been very emotional.  However the song talked more about 'love visiting for a while' or somesuch stuff and I felt it's impact was diminished. A pretty song though delived with panache and likeability by an obvious Master of his craft.

I met Gifford last year and was quite charmed by his relaxed and chatty style.  He puts people at ease and in doing so disguises his skill so that everything looks easy.

I was talking to the soundman last night after the concert and we were talking about the sound which was excellent.  He said 'Ach, it's easy to make the sound good in here because the equipment is fantastic.  A numpty could do it!'  I said, straight faced 'In that case then, to prove the veracity of that statement, how about I do the sound next week.'  The look on that man's face was a picture considering that I know nothing about sound engineering except when the sound is good/bad.  So, it's not so easy to get the sound right in that venue after all.  It's just as well, then, that the sound is always excellent there.  glasses10

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