Friday night saw a short schlep to Derby to the very welcoming O’Dwyer’s Bar where Jonny Wallis was playing, with support from Morganella. I had a bit of a senior moment missing the turning to their drive twice, so doing a couple of laps of the neighbourhood before finally landing. There’s the bar, a proper old skool place where a stage was already set, and some kind of function going on in the building next door.
Jonny and Katie had already got stuff set up and sorted, and once Clan Parry arrived there was a chance to get Morgan’s guitars sorted and he and Ella to get soundchecked. Folks had started arriving, lovely to see Faye and her family in particular, as well as usual suspects like Amanda, Dean, Sarah, Russ, Michelle and Rob. A fun hour or so was spent being silly, perhaps regrettably I taught Lucy how to not have all her live videos starting in selfie mode!
Morganella were up first – launching into Daisies and Sunshine in a diversion from starting with a cover version, and I think a good move. The sound was ace and both Morgan and Ella were looking very comfortable up on stage (the former perhaps because he spent most of the set hiding behind his hair!). Refuge followed, Ella really not holding back on the vocals in what is a pretty empassioned song.
Then a new song – Memories is Morganella’s ‘festival’ song (let’s face it, most festival bands have one!) but focuses on the more emotional elements of festival culture over the often alcohol-themed anthems we’ve come to know and love, it really hits the mark! So it was four songs in before a cover sneaks in, and you can’t really not include Weak, Morgan’s acoustic rendering of it along with Ella’s powerful vocals really do make this rather special.
A slow version of Gaz Brookfield’s Black Dog Day was up next, and then on for a finish of original material – the spell-binding Standing Stone of Onich followed a spot of tuning by Morgan, and then another new song Dancing With Your Demons, dripping with influence of 3 Daft Monkeys the melody is carried by the guitar at the fore here with more muted tone to the vocals giving it a more mysterious edge. The new stuff sounds really really good.
Even in my admittedly close position I don’t actually get to hear a deal of the works in progress between Morgan and Ella so often the first time I get to hear stuff properly is when it’s first performed live. I think I prefer it that way, it’s nice to have my own reactions to things in sync with everyone else’s rather than being able to wink knowingly and say ‘heard this!’. There’s a few live videos on the Morganella Facebook page if you fancy checking them out.
I also discovered that you could – if sat behind Lucy whilst live streaming – lean over and tap the camera-switch button on her screen to put it into selfie-mode mid-stream. Arf. Endless fun!
Then after a short break Jonny Wallis took the stage, with a capo that looked like he’d got it from a Kath Kidson shop. He went for the opposite tack of starting with cover versions, launching into Levellers classic The Boatman (said capo slipped a bit by the end, ha!) then onto Golden Green by The Wonderstuff. He invited Morgan to join him for a rousing cover of Eddie Vedder’s Hard Sun – really powerful stuff.
I couldn’t tell you the name of the next song (and I’ve made an arse out of myself by trying to guess before particularly with Jonny so I shan’t!), but it was followed up by To Have and to Have Not by Billy Bragg – morphing briefly into I Fought the Law and back again as the song went on – then a bit of Frank Turner in the form of The Ballad of Me and My Friends which went down very well indeed!
Jonny revived 3 Eyed Fox classic Locked Up and at Bay next – the first song he wrote, the chorus is very evocative of Levellers’ Maid of the River, I really love this track – and I just found it on Soundcloud too – bonus! Then it was onto his own songs – kicking off with the empassioned Ofsted, lambasting the trauma endured by folks who work in education at the hands of the governmental regulators.
Light the Darkness was up next – a quiet, loud, quiet, loud song full of passion and feeling – then the pace was slowed for the emotional Goodnight Lullaby, Jonny’s tribute to his sadly deceased father, always deeply touching to see this performed. Crime of Rights was up next, then on to another cover version – usually performed with Brian Stone who’s currently gallivanting around the Far East, so Morgan joined on guitar for Oh You New York Girls (Can’t You Dance the Polka?).
The final song was Social Divide which has a singalong section – and placards to help – Ella was on placard duty, and the singing along was spirited! All in all a top evening, a great sound system, lots of friends and lots of locals enjoying the music and great hosts at O’Dwyer’s. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more events here, a top evening’s entertainment and great to catch up with so many friends.