Blair Dunlop | Sage Gateshead | 23 February 2017
Reviewed for The Northern Echo
Derbyshire born Blair Dunlop is a rising star, the son of a founding member of folk legends Fairport Convention, and winner of a Radio 2 Folk Award. But pigeonholing him simply as "folk" really does him a disservice. His appeal is much broader than such confines and while the storytelling aspect of his songs is obvious he is happy to step outside the traditional folk sound.
Dunlop, together with his band JJ Stoney (keyboards) and Fred Claridge (drums) brought his ReGilded tour to Sage Gateshead this week, opening with a run of four songs from 2016’s acclaimed “Gilded” album including "Castello", "First World Problem", and the single, “356”.
"Sweet On You" was the first of several new songs aired during the evening, all of which boded well for the next album. A catchy, melodic tale that Dunlop confessed was inspired by the mother of an old girlfriend.
A cover of Springsteen's "Dancing In The Dark" was fun but a little unnecessary given the quality of Dunlop’s own material.
"Secret Theatre", a song about the “who wrote the Shakespeare plays?” controversy was another high point showcasing Dunlop’s soulful voice and guitar skills, and local flavour and history was thrown into the mix with "Up On Cragside", inspired after visiting said house in Northumberland.
Dunlop, who proved an amiable host, chatty and amusing between songs, was joined by opening act Kitty MacFarlane for an encore of her "Wrecking Days" before closing with “The Ballad Of Enzo Laviano", a tale of an imaginary Italian footballer.
It was a privilege seeing Dunlop perform in such an intimate space as the Northern Rock Foundation Hall, because he is surely destined for bigger venues given his obvious talent.
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