Artist: Otis Gibbs
Venue: “House Concert” in the Upstairs Room of The Square Tower
Date: 20th October 2013
Ok, although not technically a “house concert” in the truest sense as such, this was Square Roots Promotions first attempt at the more stripped-back, organic approach for smaller-scale, more intimate gigs. BUT, run along similar lines to a traditional house concert – and boy what a way to start, with the inestimable Mr Otis Gibbs.
The upstairs room was set up to accommodate 32 people – the number we believe just about right for a totally acoustic (no PA) up close and personal experience. This environment was certainly conducive to a very real connection between Otis and his audience.
It also helps that we have one of the most atmospheric and unusual, not to mention historic, venues in the country in which to enjoy this wonderful music.
It’s where the Tudors meet Americana!
And this evening the room looked stunning. It’s 20ft thick brick arched ceilings and walls augmented by soothing greenery and lit candelabra.
In its way it was fitting that the artist who provided us with our first sell out gig of 2013, way back in February of this year in the main hall, should return for another first – and another sell out!
The intimate and almost informal nature of the evening seemed to fit Otis like a glove. It was spellbinding listening to close up accounts of his brush with Johnny Cash and John Mellencamp, and the stories behind some of the songs. “Small Town Saturday Night” and “Something More” being fine examples of how this format can work in enveloping and immersing the listener in what can often be a moving experience.
Otis has a top notch catalogue of songs and anecdotes from which to draw, and naturally he uses them to first class effect. Otis and his audience laugh and stumble their way together through a ramshackle “Big Whiskers”, shouted lyrical reminders from us all keeping him going almost to the end. Suffice to say Grandpa was clean-shaven by close of the song!
A few new songs from his upcoming 2014 release were also aired much to our delight, and these were complemented by older favourites such as “Caroline”, “Made To Break” and the riveting “Where Only The Graves Are Real”.
After an hour and twenty minutes of pure quality Americana, we whopped and hollered as Otis remained seated long after the final chord of “Kansas City” had died, feigning surprise that we should want another song. But with smiles on everyones faces, the gentle strums of “Karluv Most” weaved its intuitive magic into the very soul of the Tower, and if there were any 500 year old ghosts still hanging around, then surely they would have approved of this outstanding gentleman.
(All images reproduced with kind permission of Liam Brown © 2013)