First saw Luke Jackson in 2014 when he played at a special concert which was a link up between Twickfolk and BBC Radio Wales when there was a Wales versus England rugby match at Twickenham stadium. Never really been interested in any sporting event before, but that’s definitely the sort of event I like. Especially when Ralph McTell turned up at the pub and played a few songs as well!
That event also featured Brain Willoughby and Sue Graves, two of my favourite performers, and Grammy Winner and Bafta nominee Amy Wadge. Was blown away by everyone who played that night, particularly Luke, who’s song “Father And Song” was one of the highlights of the evening. Have seen Luke many times since then, but sadly I’ve never seen him play that song since.
Became more of a fan of his when he provided backing vocals on a track on Daria Kulesh’s debut album, and even more when he attended a song writing course along with Maz O’Connor and the two of them wrote and recorded a song together. Seeing he was playing at Twickfolk again though meant I simply had to be there.
Had meant to check out the support act, Michelle Lewis, before going but somehow never got round to it, so Michelle was a complete surprise to me. Coming from Boston in the U.S. I had never heard of her before and had no expectations at all, that she would be any good, but I was prepared to sit through her set, waiting for Luke to come on. Could not have been more wrong. She was fantastic, and I am bitterly disappointed that being from Boston the chances of seeing her perform again are somewhat limited. I think she really enjoyed her short UK tour, and really appreciated the reception she got at Twickfolk, so fingers crossed she will be back.
Her songs vary from beautiful love songs, to really sad tragic songs that can make you cry – (well, can make me cry), though there’s a deep, warm friendly, rich tone to her voice, so that when her lyrics are breaking your heart, her voice is lightening your soul. I also loved her relaxed introductions to her songs, particularly after having played the title track from her new album “All That’s Left” when she said – ‘If you were worried that that was going to be the only dead Grandmother song in this set, don’t be.’ Highlight of her set though, to me, was her another track from her forthcoming release, “Push On”. She had introduced it by asking whether the audience had drunk enough yet to be brave enough to sing. Half way through the song the Twickfolk audience joined in. Michelle was really quite excited. Think this was the first time she’d ever played a gig and the audience had joined in withot having been cajoled first. Looking at the delight in her face, I felt really proud to know Twickfolk.
Luke, of course, did not disappoint. He has a truly amazing vocal range, and can switch from deep bass to really high notes seemingly with ease. He can really hold those high notes, too, at quite a volume. The sort of voice that could probably shatter wine glasses, though I guess that might be a little career limiting if he did.
Strangely, there were several themes from Michelle’s set that were echoed in Luke’s as well. Like Michelle, Luke too sang a new song inspired by the death of his Grandmother. I think his song was called “Family”, but please accept my apologies if I’ve got that wrong. In Michelle’s song “Scars” she sang about her Grandmother’s first husband who was killed in a plane crash, and Luke has just finished a new song called “Red Oak, inspired by an audience member from a previous gig telling him a tale about the audience member’s grandfather killed in a plane crash. In addition, Michelle’s song “Scars” includes the line “I don’t know where the time goes or how I ever got this far”, and Luke performed a beautiful cover of Sandy Denny’s “Who Knows Where The Time Goes?”. Almost as if they had planned their sets together.
Luke did something that I have only ever seen Brian Willoughby and Cathryn Craig and Fairport Convention do before, namely to invite the support artist back up to the stage to perform a song with him. He described how he had been to a karaoke bar where there was a prize of a pint of beer for the best singer. He had performed a cover of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'”, and had felt pretty confident that he’d win. However, he was pipped at the post by four guys who’d performed a cover of a Westlife song, and one of them had taken his shirt off during a key change. On inviting Michelle up to the stage, he assured her not to worry as there was no key change in “Free Fallin'”. Their rendition was faultless, and, I’m fairly sure, completely unrehearsed.
The only other person I know of who has invited the support artist to share the stage with them is an American called Jonathan Byrd. The reason I know this is that the support artist he’d invited on to the stage was Luke. Luke had performed a cover of Byrd’s song, “Poor Johnny”, and Byrd had seen it on Youtube and shared it. When Byrd toured the UK, Luke was invited as support and ended up performing “Poor Johnny” as a duet with him. Luke performed it again at Twickfolk, a capella.
The majority of the material Luke played were recent songs. His recent live album, “Solo, Duo, Trio” consisted purely of older tracks that he was intending to give one final outing, before putting them to bed for good. “Last Train”, though, was one such track that since the live album he has been unable to put down and he has played it regularly ever since. As usual, he segued into a cover of Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind”, accompanied beautiful by the Twickfolk audience.
Since I last saw Luke he has added a drum to his armory, placed behind him and played with a pedal operated by his heel. Loved the way Luke introduced several of his songs whilst playing his guitar gently in the background. Not only are his songs musical works of art, but so are the bits between the songs. A complete show.
Pete Bradley – September 2018
Categorised in: Reviews
This post was written by Luke