Venue: The Square Tower
Date: 30th January 2015
We were absolutely delighted that at last we could provide the prodigious songwriting talents of one of Canada’s finest, Dennis Ellsworth, with a full show on our main stage in the Square Tower, and even more pleased that not only did the show sell out, but it coincided with our official 2nd birthday and the wonderful Marion Fleetwood as support act! Triple reason for celebration then!
Marion is probably best known as fiddle player and vocalist extraordinaire with The Jigantics and ColvinQuarmby (amongst others), but what some might not realise is that she is also a growing solo artist in her own right. Her brief support set was enthusiastically received, none more so than her own beautifully crafted acoustic guitar led ‘Curve Of My Back’, and her endearing warmth and vibrant personality has the audience with her right from the start. Her first solo album – Crowdfunded and target reached in 3 days flat – promises to be a veritable cracker!
Here at Square Roots Towers we have long been vocal advocates of an artist we truly believe to be “world class”, and those of you who have seen Dennis Ellsworth at two of our previous exclusive “house concerts” will know exactly what we mean. And following this full house show, and judging by the queue for CD sales, it would seem that others fully concur with our assessment.
Ellsworth’s songs are indeed lush and languorous, and whether dragging you through the emotional wringer or looking at life through slightly skewed dark-tinted RayBans, they never fail to wrap a surreptitiously warm glow around your consciousness and connect on a more ethereal level.
This particular evening he held a rapt audience in the palm of his Canadian hand, a ninety minute career-to-date spanning set which perfectly encompasses all that is good and great about this Prince Edward Islander. From openers ‘Things I Want’ and ‘Everything’s Fine’ from his current release ‘Hazy Sunshine’, through to ‘Perfect Storm’ (“possibly the best song I’ve written”), the fluid cadences and subtle nuances of these songs take on an almost lullaby-type quality and draw an intently listening audience under their spell.
A listening audience is certainly to Dennis’ liking, and it’s an insightful experience to hear some of the stories behind the songs, especially the newer ones (from the yet to be released new album ‘Romantic As It Gets’) such as the beautiful ‘Valentine’ and contrasting “Shines The Sun”. He seems genuinely surprised that when he asks if there are any songs that people would like to hear, various sections of the crowd shout out their favourite Dennis song – in this instance ‘Mercy Doll’ wins out. A delicately whimsical melody floats throughout a metaphorical tale of a tree that was felled in a storm, yet continues to grow sideways anyway! If you haven’t seen this song being performed in Jeff’s Musical Car then you really need to! You Tube it!
It really is a testament to the brilliance of his songwriting that you know how good a Dennis Ellsworth show is by the songs he leaves out! No ‘Silver Tears’ or ‘Happiness’ tonight, and even the inspirational ‘Electric Stars’ is used early in the set.
For his closing number, Dennis invites Marion Fleetwood back onto the stage to join him for a moment of pure unadulterated jaw-dropping musical magic with ‘If I Find The Truth’. Marion’s hauntingly beautiful violin teeters on the edge of heartbreak, and dovetails perfectly with Dennis’ evocatively soft vocal delivery and beautifully picked guitar lines. The hall was so quiet you could hear a mouse squeak, and as the final notes of fiddle and acoustic guitar faded, the audience loudly showed their approval for an exceptional artist.
Returning for a well deserved encore of his going-home song ‘Park Royal’ (“That’s not the industrial estate in South London!”), Dennis Ellsworth seals his place in the hearts and minds of the Portsmouth people, and we’re already counting the days until he returns! If you get the chance to catch this outstanding gent, then grab it with both hands – you won’t be disappointed!
(Photos courtesy of Liam Brown ©2015)
“Thanks for a great gig – a very special evening for Square Roots 2nd Birthday!” (Dan Ogus)
“I cannot thank you enough for last night. Dennis’ voice is like velvet!” (Ruth Eades)
“Another great night!” (Brian Hanson)
“Absolutely fabulous show, our favourite one yet at the Tower with two amazing singers, and when Marion plays that fiddle it is just magical and can literally make me cry!” (Viv Chatfield)
“Dennis is amazing! We played together on his closing number – what a fabulous songwriter. I could listen to him for hours – a privilege to play with him.” (Marion Fleetwood)
“The Dennis Ellsworth gig was my first visit to a Square Roots show, and I really really enjoyed it. I was delighted to find someone bringing these performers to Portsmouth. It was just a great atmosphere in which to listen to music, and a very friendly bunch of people!” (Roger Sherliker)
If you’d like to check out that very special moment when Dennis is joined on stage by Marion Fleetwood for “If I Find The Truth”, then here it is, filmed courtesy of Liam Brown.