Nick Drake Tribute at "Les Cousins"
 November 2004

People talking loudly while he was on stage was a big problem for the late
Nick Drake, and one of the main reasons for his having played so few
concerts during his brief but influential career. So it was probably just as well
that he couldn't be around for Thursday night's Nick Drake Tribute at the 
revived Les Cousins folk club in Soho.

For the first two hours of a bill that featured new singer-songwriters 
earnestly strumming their own stuff. and a band. Things Behind the Sun,
who played songs from each of Drake's three albums, most of the audience
were busy paying tribute to another stimulating legacy - the conversation-
enhancing power of alcohol.

As the four-piece band nervously picked their way through tricksy
numbers such as River Man from Drake's debut, Five Leaves Left, a
couple next to me noisily discussed forest preservation in Thailand.

Elsewhere the midweek wine-bar crowd mulled over the day's meetings
and took pictures of each other with their mobiles.
It was left to a dozen or so raptly attentive diehards at the front to 
remind the other hundred or so punters why they had been charged
£10 at the club's door. As well as marking the 30th anniversary of 
Drake's suicide, the programme heralded the return - spread across
two floors now, rather than huddled in the basement - of one of London's
leading folk venues of the late '60s. Along with the Troubadour in Earl's
Court and Bunjie's at nearby Leicester Square, Les Cousins 
 hosted intimate shows by folk heroes such as Martin Carthy, John
enboum and Bert Jansch.

None of the solo acts at Thursday's event could hold a plectrum to any of
those originals. But Behind the Sun did a fine job at rendering songs Drake
himself was too shy and underfunded to perform properly while he was alive.
Mark Pavey's vocal captured the velvety textures of Drake's voice, while
Peter Michaels had carefully memorised all of Drake's guitar 
tunings as well as improvising some jazzy pianistic flourishes of his own.

The high point of the night was the selection from the upbeat second
album, Bryter Layter, with Poor Boy swinging for England and Hazeyfane
contradicting the notion of Drake as a terminal depressive. Best of all, by this
point in an up-and-down night, most of the chatterers had finished their
drinks and left.

©Daily Telegraph

 

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