We were treated to two sets on Thursday night by Tom Russel - the first made largely up of songs and stories from his new record The Rose of Roscrae, whilst the second was a whip through his catalogue with a few requests thrown in for good measure. Songs such as the glorious Nina Simone and Guatelupe all made an appearance, but it was livelier numbers that really captured the mood in the audience. Closing the first set with Tonight We Ride set the tone just perfectly for what was to come in the second half.
Tom was joined onstage solely by guitarist Max Di Bernadi, who is surely one of the sweetest sounding guitarists to grace these shores. With a style that is both intricate and busy, whilst hugely understated and sweet, it seems Tom has found a great companion to ride with into the London night.
Russell really is one of the great singer-songwriters of the last 50 years, with a style and confidence in delivery that you can only achieve through learning your craft the hard way - playing in every bar from El Paso to New York. But it’s in-between his songs that really captures his audience’s hearts, with long and winding tales of crawling drunk through the alleys in Mexico and hearing Ana Gabriel for the first time, to Johnny Cash saving him from a group of chasing photographers. These tales augmented and introduced the coming songs perfectly, so as to keep us all wanting more come the end of the night.
Ending the night with Who’s Going to Build Your Wall after Donald Trump made such an appearance throughout the night was fitting.