Review of West Kirby Arts Centre Show 24th March 2018 - Trevor Smith WKAC

Here's a review for our West Kirby Arts Centre Show last week (24th March 2018) that is on the West Kirby Arts Centre Facebook Page - Many thanks to Trevor Smith for such kind kinds: 

Review: John Jenkins & the James Street Band at West Kirby Arts Centre 

West Kirby Arts Centre· Thursday, 29 March 2018 

Last Saturday WKAC hosted the type of show that is rapidly becoming one of their hallmarks. John Jenkins and his band performed a warm, smooth, intimate show that complimented the unique atmosphere and acoustics of the hall. 

John is a local singer songwriter who originally hailed from Scotland Road but who resides in Meols. He has played in some notable Merseyside bands and has supported some serious 80’s royalty, including Elvis Costello, The Beat and Echo and the Bunnymen. After a self-imposed hiatus, he has bounced back with a new CD of original songs and we were fortunate to have him showcase many of these at the centre. 

John has a relaxed, natural style of delivery that results from performing for as long as he has, and associating with musicians of such impeccable pedigree. His dialogue with the audience was friendly and sincere and his introductions to the various songs enhanced peoples’ appreciation of them. 

Similarly, the band was tight and well-balanced. I didn’t hear one bum note all night. This was quite an achievement as there were a wide range of instruments between the seven band members. It would be appropriate to also mention the sterling work of Tony Woof & Bob Glass who ran the mixing desk heroically. The overall sound balance was very pleasing. 

First half highlights for me were an old favourite, “Playing with Fire”, and the first half closer, “Someday We’ll See Better Days”. The latter was inspired by local musicians singing “We Shall Overcome” en masse at an anti-austerity benefit concert. John made a good fist of recreating the power and passion of this performance here to whet peoples’ appetites for the second set. 

The second half maintained the quality and momentum of the first. John performed many of his latest songs here, from his new CD, “Window Shopping in Nashville”. Speaking to him afterwards, he was clearly pleased how this new material compared with his established set, and how comfortable these new songs were now to perform. Notably “Looking For That American Dream”, the number that opened the second set and “Can You Hear Me” are examples of this. John set the scene for the latter with a heart-warming account of his father’s pride in moving from the urban Scotland Road to the leafier, suburban West Derby. 

The James Street Band includes among their rank an extended family of talented singer-songwriters in their own right. John allowed certain band members to perform their own songs within the set. This was a nice touch and enhanced the evening’s entertainment. Notable examples of these included Denis Parkinson (electric guitar) performing his insightful “Idiot Guide to Modern Living”. In addition Sarah Jones showed plenty of maturity at a very young age with her tender song, “Way Into Your Heart”, assisted by Megan-Louise. She then returned the favour on Megan’s “The Train Song”. David Nixon then weighed in with his emotional rendition of “Moon and Stars”. There was a degree of Merseypride going on here also, with certain band members decamping on the Wirral from Liverpool and others going the other way. 

My personal favourite song from the whole performance was “Don’t Make Me Stay”, the final number of the night. This was simply a lovely song, performed with warmth and wonderful harmonies, sending everyone home happy. 

All in all, this was a deeply satisfying evening of original songs written and performed by a talented group of local musicians. The centre played its part in the proceedings also, its unique setting perfectly complimenting this performance. I would encourage everyone to check out the WKAC website to see the programme of up and coming acts for the year. 

Review by Trevor Smith 

Fine Art Degree (painting) Birmingham 1976, now lives in West Kirby. Whole teaching career in Liverpool schools. Retired in 2012 as Head of Arts Faculty in the North Liverpool Academy in Anfield. 

He has exhibited at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham and Bluecoat Gallery in Liverpool.

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