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  • Writer's pictureCHRIS FARLIE

LIVE REVIEW: RAINTOWN - TWO WAYS HOME - THE WATER RATS


RAINTOWN - TWO WAYS HOME - THE WATER RATS

In the early years of #TEAMw21, Raintown were a regular feature on the London circuit sometimes as a full band and others as a trio. They played at some of the most seminal gigs we've ever attended, The Yeehaw Festival at Rockingham Castle in the pouring rain, and a show at the 100 Club with Larkin Poe are just two that immediately spring to mind. This time round it was to be supporting their recent album release "Acoustic Heart", which has set them on a completely different and from the sound of the album richly rewarding path - Tonight was a chance to see how the Raintown of today stacks up against their legacy.


RAINTOWN - TWO WAYS HOME - THE WATER RATS

First up though on this evening of Husband / Wife acts was Two Ways Home, fresh from announcing their plans to take "The Round Up" on tour playing a full set rather than a Songwriters Round. They would warm up the audience with a selection from their catalogue starting with "Closest Stranger", with Lewis on guitar and stomp pedal and Isy on shaker duties. Always an engaging act guaranteed to raise a smile with their unique patter between songs. It was a chance to hear some of their more recent singles in a live environment, "Medicine Man" forinstance, with it's deep Americana feel, created by Lewis's guitar work was impressive.

RAINTOWN - TWO WAYS HOME - THE WATER RATS

For "Polaroid Kids", Isy would move to hand holding the microphone, emphasising lyrics with the other. - it is a song that shows Two Way Home at their best where they can entwine their vocals. They would still find time to include a snippet of Shania's "You're Still The One".

Isy would do her mandolin for "Push and Pull" and fire out the lyrics rapidly on the verses before moving on to the jaunty chorus and the then obligatory "My heart , my beating heart" audience singalong section.


One unlikely song that Two Ways Home have rescued from the 80's scrapheap, is John Farnham's "The Voice". The Two Ways Home take on it finds a gentler melody in the verses with Isy leading the vocals, while retaining the bombast of the chorus which they hit as a duo. Isy would again don her mandolin for "Waiting On Luck", looking exceptionally wide eyed as she sung on this song about taking your opportunities in life rather than waiting for them to happen. Their set would close with "Broken Hearts Club" - completing their job of warming up the room. With a Round Up tour to come and preparations under way for a second album, there is lots more to come from Two Ways Home this year



RAINTOWN - TWO WAYS HOME - THE WATER RATS

This would be a full band Raintown show with Claire and Paul supported by regular guitarist Stevie Lawrence as well as a fiddle player, drummer and additional guitarist to give the rich sound required to bring their catalogue to life. Things would commence with drums, guitar and Stevie playing mandolin as if his very life depended on it, Claire and Paul would join both hand holding their microphones for "If This Was A Love Song". This was very much Raintown as they always were and the memories came flooding back, the fact that Paul lives every drum beat and guitar thrash as he performs. It was a total blast of sound and they picked up the baton as it they had never been away.


Claire with her blonde hair beneath her hat and Paul in his green shirt were certainly the focus of attention. This tour is raise the profile of their excellent new record "Acoustic Heart" and it's presence was immediately felt with Fiona Cuthill on fiddle providing the predominant recurring theme for "Play It Loud". It was the perfect link between the old and new sounds of the band. If there was one slightly odd feature of the night it was the choice of Raintown covers, both were well performed versions but curious ones to sing as a duo - the first being Brandy Clark's "Stripes". Claire was certainly able to put the required sassy venom into her delivery, it was just odd hearing Paul say that Orange ain't my colour!"


RAINTOWN - TWO WAYS HOME - THE WATER RATS

It was back to the second Raintown album "Writing On The Wall" for "19 Again", with a crackingly loud electric guitar intro. The song is now enhanced by the additional fiddle playing. With theatrical pauses and Claire's exemplary big extended note at the end - there was no denying that Raintown were back and sounding better than ever. If that song was Claire's chance to shine then "Day In The Sun" was Paul's, introduced by a wailing electric guitar and Stevie's mandolin playing ,this would turn into a multi layered instrumentation along with a trio of vocals on the chorus with bass player Scott MacPherson joining in as well to make a formidable sound.


Finger clicking was the order of the day for the introduction to "Set The World On Fire" and it was noticeable that the reaction to these new songs was as good if not better than it was to the old ones, which is always a good litmus test of your new material. A strong fiddle and guitar intro set the scene for a re energised "Forever Isn't Long Enough", Fiona's fiddle complimenting and enhancing Paul and Claire's efforts. A big drum intro would see Raintown do an assault on "Wild Mountain Thyme", arranged by Stevie this folk rock take on it was suitably stirring and generated an audience clapalong.


RAINTOWN - TWO WAYS HOME - THE WATER RATS

The stage would then empty to just Claire and Stevie for one of the stand out tracks from "Acoustic Heart" - "My Whole World", the song is carried from the very off by Claire's ability to sell the lyrics and it immediately turned the Water Rats pin drop silent. It is a song drenched in tragedy, Claire is able to add a touch of reality to her delivery and as the final notes faded away there was an audible "Oh Yes" from the crowd, such was the affect the performance had generated. Instantly lifting the mood and getting the mobile phones waving was "One Love" with its ridiculously catchy chorus, again supported by Fiona's inventive fiddle playing.


RAINTOWN - TWO WAYS HOME - THE WATER RATS

One of the revamps of old material on "Acoustic Heart" is to "Writing On The Wall" which now comes with a new one minte fiddle vocal introduction before hitting the familiar introductory riff. The chorus now a madcap rock meets country hoedown - and somplete with an electric guitar solo, this fusion of styles was hugely enjoyable! Keeping the uptempo part atmosphere going was unbridled joy that is "Red Dress". the second of the curious duets would come in the shape of Cam's "Diane", it had the requisite urgent drum and guitar, it just changes your view of the song and raises a smile hearing Paul saying "I didn't know he was your man!"


RAINTOWN - TWO WAYS HOME - THE WATER RATS

The main set would close out in style first with "Feel Much Better Now", another song that acted as a reminder of just how good Raintown in full flow could be, even finding time to slip in a verse and chorus of the Cranberries "Dreams" to great effect before rejoining the main song. The final song would see the return of the one song #TEAMw21 could never quite get to grips with from "Writing On The Wall" - the infamous "Shut The Front Door", however we have to say that tonight's version with the fiddle, country electric guitar, hoedown chorus and the band chanting won us over.


RAINTOWN - TWO WAYS HOME - THE WATER RATS

The encore of "Thankful For It All" would sum up everything, the night the "Acoustic Heart" record and Raintown's general outlook, truly thankful that they get to have special nights like this. It closes the album and this beautiful version did them proud. One final song would send us home out on to the streets of Central London, a visit to their first ever single "Just One Kiss" which would see them roll back the years - comeback? - It was like they were never away!




PHOTOS BY: COLIN JONES

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