★★★ (out of five)
I BET it wasn’t like this when Kate Bush played here.
That thought struck soon after the opening bars of Sean Taylor’s set at the Half Moon in Putney.
We’re in a well-heeled part of town, where outside, the iconic pub’s bright red neon lights overlook the Thames alongside a strip of independent hairdressers, vintage clock shops and rows and rows of chunky houses.
Something’s wrong. The opening four songs in Taylor’s set are marred by sound problems.
It’s hardly befitting the history-steeped venue, where an old-fashioned cinema sign by the entrance announces the night’s act – in the past, it has included names such as U2, Bo Diddley, The Stones, and the aforementioned Bush.
Taylor is sharing the small stage with double-bass hero Danny Thompson.
The Kilburn guitarist and songwriter is on good form, making light of the sharp crackling sound coming from the speakers. First, he blames someone eating a packet of crisps in the front-row; then, during his new track London, he compares the problems to those at the Live Aid concert.
There were hundreds of instruments to look after there though; only a double bass and an acoustic guitar here. It’s a shame and is absolutely no fault of Taylor’s. If anything, it makes punters in the nearly-full room even more appreciative of the power of the rest of his set.
Soon after, the show really kicks off with songs from 2009’s album Calcutta Grove. The first is a Christmas song which features ambitious guitar lines as Thompson busily throws out terrific, scraping lines on the double bass.
In fitting with Taylor’s authentic style, the festive tune is about a couple of down-and-outs and is more John Healy than Noddy Holder.
By the time the harmonica driven Stand Up gets aired, as well as an upbeat and extended version of his title track Chase The Night, the room’s buzzing.
The second half of the show continues in the same vein, with covers thrown in alongside newer tracks such as Kilburn before Thompson returns to stage to bring a deep, rumbling bass line to end on So Fine, one of the stand-out songs on the new record.
An encore cover of Tom Waits’ Way Down In The Hole goes down brilliantly with the audience to close a fine and wide-ranging 20-song set that lasted over two hours, but which felt much shorter.
Set list (first five songs with Danny Thompson):
Never Walk Alone
Chase The Night
Fare Thee Farewell
Way Down In The Hole