Irregular Fridays at Lendal Cellars

Friday night saw Irregular Fridays hosted by Graham Blueskies return to Lendal Cellars. This open mic session featuring four artists was followed by Tom McKenzie, who is currently on tour promoting his eponymous album.

Review by Blue Wilson

Photos by Andy Argyle

You’d expect any songster/songstress in this subterranean city centre pub venue to be serenading stag and hen parties on a Friday night. The audience though, was a healthy mix and all suitably chilled and appreciative of the five fine offerings in this low vault-ceilinged venue.
Kicking things off with a wry smile, raspy country vocals, fast paced guitar and tongue in cheek pop cover choices was York’s Dale Spencer. He twisted it up with hoedown interpretations of Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself and Pharrell William’s Get Lucky.

Jo Hendrix, covers artist, followed superbly with Laura Marling’s Alas I Cannot Swim in a cappella. Oozing confidence with witty banter between renditions, this talented young woman clearly puts much thought into her “banging” song choices, such as Blood by The Middle East, Fairytale by Sara Bareilles and The Black Keys’ Lonely Boy. Her strong vocals ranged from the angelic to belting out country style. Finishing with a slow number, this girl could sing just about anything.

Next up was the brilliant York-based singer/songwriter Suzy Bradley, formerly of rock band The Murderhouse. This time she entertained with a very polished solo acoustic set of her own original tracks, soon to appear on her new charity compilation album, with a couple of covers thrown in. An earthy mix of blues, folk, jazz and country to be gleaned from her own songs such as Blue with its rousing Celtic country sound and bluesy vocals. Until Dawn demonstrated Suzy’s incredible guitar and vocal skills in the crescendo. Delightfully poignant lyrics came with her next original, an audience favourite, and finally a cover of Amy Macdonald’s This Is The Life.

Having relocated to York only four days prior, the pleasingly fresh faced and sweet voiced Georgette Hilton took to the floor. A strong singing pedigree as granddaughter of legendary crooner Ronnie Hilton she brought a sherbet dip of covers and original material. Extremely self-assured and suffering no fools after busking of an evening in Leeds city centre and on Coney Street, she now hopes to do more on stage as a solo artist and with her new girl group.

Her sugary persona gives way occasionally to glimpses of a cheekier undertone as with Bitch, a penning about a personal experience involving several other girls and their revenge against a serial dater. This girl next door has a naughty side! She then relaxed everyone into the night with original folk song These Four Walls followed by Front Line, about a girl sacrificing her life for her lover, delivered acoustically in similar country pop style. Covers then of Summertime, complete with husky deep-south swoony vocals, followed by the very emotive Back to Black. With vocals like a smoothie-blend of Katie Melua, Suzi Quatro, Adele and Norah Jones, and foot tapping rhythms, this ambitious musician/singer should go far.


Onto the main act then and Tom McKenzie with friend, backing vocalist/percussionist Alex on a smart Echo cajon, finally get chance to showcase some songs from Tom’s self-titled new album released that very day and ahead of official launch at same venue on the 19th August.

From Bradford but soon to return to university and a PhD in York, Tom certainly is well rehearsed and prepared to surround us with his delectation of melancholic folk sound. His new album seeing the introduction of double bass (to be included in the gig on the 19th), mandolin, fiddle and banjo, Tom has clearly expanded and evolved since York Calling’s last encounter.

Over The Hills was an upbeat strudel of a tale of young love – a theme running throughout Tom’s song writing. A summery Spanish feel mashed up with true Yorkshire grit next was Give It A Go, a poppier sound reminiscent of Ed Sheeran. He chased that up with a Simon & Garfunkel flavour shot in September – jolly strumming to further anecdotes of long distance romance. Tom then presented a beautiful ‘lullaby’ Sleep Well, Good Night with its drifting, swaying melody and lyrics. Surprising all then with a childhood favourite and a cheery cover of You’ve Got a Friend as featured in the film Toy Story. Another apt song All Summer, on what was a very balmy evening, was a totally tranquil track much like a deeply satisfying sigh, exhaled extremely eloquently by Tom.  He charmed all then with another upbeat indie folk song. Jigsaw Puzzle had a very Celtic vibe, which runs throughout his latest offerings. He ended the set then with Directions.

Tom proved with this pre-launch performance that his new album is definitely more upbeat and up tempo in both sound and sentiment.

Irregular Fridays featuring Tom McKenzie took place at Lendal Cellars on Friday 5 August 2016