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Review: Ralph McTell, Hall Two The Sage Gateshead

English folk singer-songwriter Ralph McTell was at The Sage Gateshead. Martin Ellis was lucky enough to be at the sell-out show

*****

Singer Ralph McTell
Singer Ralph McTell
 

Ralph McTell is almost unique as an English folk singer-songwriter, he has had a chart hit.

And while Streets of London was nearly 40 years ago, the popular singer continues to pack-out venues. Every seat in Hall Two was taken and there was also a crowd standing at the back.

Many of McTell’s songs relate to his observations of people and life. Some songs are based on people he has met.

He performed a song following a meeting years ago with a Geordie in New York who then travelled to LA to hear McTell perform. Other songs were based on people he knew as a child and his elderly relations.

Throughout the evening McTell demonstrated his ability to use simple language to write about deep and complex issues. He played new songs yet to be recorded, recently penned songs and wide range of material from his back-catalogue stretching back to the 1960s.

The strength of McTell’s song-writing can over-shadow his prowess as a guitarist.

His finger-picking style draws on acoustic American country-blues players, he entertained the audience with a couple of instrumental pieces. I was surprised to see a Steinway on stage, which McTell clearly enjoyed playing briefly.

McTell’s performance was relaxed and delicate, his songs tonight were often gritty and always accessible. He is a rather down-to-earth superstar with the manner of the bloke down the pub. A five-star performance from a five-star musician.

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