Thursday 8th November. 7pm. I was stuck in a school mass. Listening to a priest, get down with the kids (not in the literal sense thank the lord) by quoting lines from "CRRRCREEEANA" and "DE SCCCRIPPED" declaring how; "DEEES ARE DE POHHHETS OF DIS GINHERAAAYSHUN" The generation in question being kids of 12 and 13. Apart from the fact it was cringe-worthy to say the least to hear a skinny Catholic priest trying to relate to the kids, I found it deeply depressing to think that, he was probably half way right. Rhianna and The Script probably are the poets of a lot of 'this generation'. I looked over at my daughter who stood in the back row of the choir and watched as she suppressed the smirk and rolling eyes of a person not impressed with the statement. Parenting win for me!
We left as soon as the first year mass ended and entered The Medicine Room, where I found a roaring fire, my mother, Joe the wandering song collector and medium of the muse, The Ronald and Stuart Wilde, who was just done sound checking. The Kid (my daughter) said a hello to everyone before leaving with my mother to be fed and watered. I felt grateful that my kid has some exposure to what music is all about, a cosy room, friendship and some genuine character and sharing of stories.
Catherine Cunningham arrived just in time to get set up and quickly sound checked before launching into her set. I was impressed by her slightly beaten up guitar, a good sign if ever there was one. Catherine has more than a passing resemblance to Woody Guthrie with a hint of Joni Mitchell'esque, her songwriting occasionally straying into protest song terrain and back again into the intricate storytelling folk singer/songwriter tradition, with a couple of gentler spiritual sounding pieces. Catherine's songs sometimes border on pieces of academia, intelligently complex stories which demand to be listened to, something which she was not afraid to do when some mumbling in the room got a bit too loud. Catherine's set was widely admired, her distinct brand of wittily cynical, historical facts and mathematical fictions and strong personality leaving a definite impression on the Medicine audience.
After a break, where-by Medicinners drank, smoked, laughed, roared and bantered, Stuart Wilde took his spot. Perched on a stool, a stomp box at each foot, his hollow body electric guitar plugged into a battered Vox amp, waiting to growl. The first song, "Black Crow', instantly transformed the room into an intense cavern, corners drew darker, the floor closer, the ceiling lower, the audience began to crouch, hypnotised by Stuart's charismatic placement on the stage. The last time Stuart played the Sessions, he was accompanied by a violin and piano. Together they were fantastic! I was interested in seeing Stuart perform on his own though, as it's easier to be powerful with friends at your side. If anything, he was even better, compensating for the lack of band with an extra dose of stage persona. His glare was wilder, his voice growlier, his delivery during his gentler songs, projected so delicately that the the whole room held a collective breath.. and only exhaled after the very final plink of guitar string had finished resonating. To be honest, Stuart's first time round at The Medicine Sessions won the praises of the Medicine audience, but this time round he won their hearts too. Next year, if he chooses to return, he'll be offered their sacrificed souls or something..