Jim Moray at Forest Live (10/03/13)

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Jim Moray’s gig for Forest Live (at Fordingbridge’s Town Hall) is the only gig at which I’ve been able to buy a chilli-con-carne half way through. That may seem irrelevant, but I just wanted to point out what a quirky and great job Forest Live did in running the gig. Getting multi-folk award winning Jim Moray to play at an 80 seater capacity was an incredible achievement and selling the tickets for only £10 a pop was a steal. The promotion team ensured that the audience got more than their money’s worth.

The proceedings kicked off with a set from sixteen year-old Joey Goldsmith (as the booking company like to support local as well as nationally recognised acts). His performance was fairly solid – he was technically proficient at guitar and had a voice which was quite mature for his age. However, he undersold himself with his opening track, a cover of Mumford & Sons’ ‘Awake My Soul’. Although, it was a fairly well executed number, there was nothing innovative about it. He hadn’t really brought anything new to the song, which was a shame. The same could be said of his cover of ‘Heartbeats’, which was a carbon copy of Jose Gonzalez’s version.

Having said this, Goldsmith’s original songs were good and much more enjoyable to listen to. A particular favourite from the set was ‘Giants and Towers’, which showed a tender sensibility beyond his sixteen years. He didn’t quite challenge himself vocally as much as I’d have liked to have heard, but it was clear that he’s got talent, and given a few years and a bit more innovation, he could be very good.

After this, there was a brief interval (where you could buy chilli) whilst Moray set up for his two sets. Moray also opened his set with a cover (rather than a traditional folk song), which showed just how well a solo artist can make a song their own with his complicated picking patterns and adjusted vocal line. The opener was a good, solid number and the performance just got better from there-on in. ‘Jenny of the Moor’, the next number, was better than the first, as was ‘Sweet England’ after that. Moray’s vocals were never anything short of impeccable and he proved real technical skill on both the guitar and piano. You could tell that he’d been educated at a conservatoire.

Two sets from the same artist can get weary sometimes, but that was definitely not the case with Moray. After a brief interval (in which I met Jim – lovely guy – and got chatting about my dissertation plans of all things), he returned to the stage and played a set which was just as exciting as the first. It’s impossible to get bored when someone is so good at playing their instruments and using so many exciting effects with them. During ‘The Captain’s Apprentice’ (a tale about the torture and murder of a cabin boy), Moray fed his voice through his keyboard in order to create electronic choral harmonies. This was an effect which he incorporates on the album version of the track, but I gained a new appreciation for it by seeing the efforts Moray went to to create the sound.

After two great sets, the best was saved for last. Moray closed with award winning song ‘Lord Douglas’, which was perfectly done, but his encore, ‘Wishfulness Waltz’, (a song which he’s never recorded before) was the most beautiful song of the whole night (possibly that I’ve ever heard) and I found that I was actually moved to tears by it. It was an incredible end to what was probably the best solo performance I’ve ever witnessed.

Jim Moray is touring relentlessly until August and I would thoroughly recommend going to see him if you get the chance. Even if you aren’t into folk, he’s well worth a watch.

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