Going to Bristol tonight to see Kevin Montgomery…

Here is a review of a house concert he did many years ago, near Bristol…

At last the concert started with a young woman called Amy. She sang what I presume were her own songs but she didn’t introduce them or herself, apart from the last number which was an Irish folk song which she accompanied with her bodhran.

Amy was followed by the splendid and entertaining James Slater. He played an interesting set, the sort of singer you need to hear a few times to really appreciate. He had a good rapport with the audience who were sitting on rugs, garden chairs, blankets, as the light went from the sky and a little bat flew around overhead, presumably catching the feeble midges.

James finished and we were full of anticipation as we waited for Kevin and Johnny McKinnon. It was getting darker and colder, and candles were lit on the steps up to the terrace and torches around the garden. Eventually as the moon came up Kevin and Johnny trotted onto the stage.

And of course it was well worth waiting for! Every time I hear Kevin I think he is better than the previous time – or maybe just very different. Surrounded by so many friends he was even more relaxed and funny than usual. Apparently his set list had disappeared – he had left it on a table and presumably someone had taken it as a souvenir.

He sang most of his well-known songs, but he sang some with different tempo from usual which was fascinating and nice as a change for those of us who were very familiar with them. He and Johnny had a splendid line in repartee, some of the jokes rambled off into the surreal, really very funny. There were cut-out sheep around the garden especially for Johnny (I can only guess the connection!!!) One of them with a black face seemed almost alive as it peered at Johnny through the gloom.

Johnny was left to do a couple of solos, ‘Great Balls of Fire’ – an interesting version as he didn’t know all the words! However he played with enough vigour and enthusiasm to cause our neighbours on rugs to abandon their wine and picnic and leap up and dance. He played a second number which I really cannot remember although it was good.

Kevin returned and they continued until past midnight. Our children were so tired we left fairly quickly but I’m sure the party continued.

It was a wonderful experience, a fantastic performance, and really memorable. The best bit? Looking at my children’s faces as they listened and watched, under the stars, the moon looking as if it was caught in the branches of a tree; they were wrapped up in blankets because of the cold but glowing, eyes sparkling with enjoyment and the magic of it all.

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