FOX & NEWT, LEEDS
Monday 15th May
There’s a buzz in Leeds tonight. Rumours are whispered that something great is going to take place at the Brudenell. People take to their phones and laptops and no doubt Google feels the strain as we all try to find out more. And then we do. There’s the announcement in pixel print, clear as can be – Eleanor McEvoy’s gig has been moved to the intimate surroundings of the Fox and Newt. The ever-gracious McEvoy is gracious again – not wanting to steal Corbyn’s thunder in these final pre-election weeks, she moves, he attends, and those of us lucky enough to have tickets to her gig are delighted to be witness to a wonderful evening of candlelit music, warmth, humour and engagement, while others continue the crusade up the hill and in the trees of Hyde Park.
McEvoy is one of the finest singer-songwriters, musicians and vocalists on the circuit. The former graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and member of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra has a back, current and prospective catalogue that reflects her diverse tastes, styles and abilities. And although tonight is focused on her current release, Naked, her stripped back performance takes us on a touching journey that encompasses thoughts of affairs, religion, alcohol, politics, love, loss, anorexia and how artists from different fields can cross boundaries to create something stunning for both art forms. In tonight’s case it’s painting and music. The set themes might sound heavy but there’s lightness in touch and a skill to her presentation that leaves us enchanted, intrigued and completely engaged.
McEvoy’s collaboration with renowned artist Chris Gollon created something very special. Complemented by wit and warmth in equal measure, we learn the history of the relationship, the patterns that ensued as songs and brush strokes grew in number and the wondrous outputs their complementary co-operation created. The audience also learned the very sad news that Chris Gollon passed away just a few weeks ago. It’s clear this tour is therefore demonstrative of dedication – both to Eleanor’s artform and to her artist friend. And it’s a privilege to be part of it.
Eleanor McEvoy’s extensive and far reaching set culminates in a wonderful, participatory performance of ‘A Woman’s Heart’. It’s almost as shocking to realise this seminal track is 25years old as it is to hear that Eleanor McEvoy is 50. Like the wine referenced in her set, both have aged tremendously well and both are received with deserved affection.
It’s been a truly wonderful night of Naked music. At the close of the gig, Eleanor emerges to meet and greet, sign and engage. And the audience reciprocate with ordered enthusiasm. The Fox and Newt worked tremendously well. We’ve got to wait til June for the Brudenell’s outcome—
Eleanor McEvoy’s tour continues throughout 2017 in England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Europe. You’d be a fool to miss it.