Sunday Sessions at The Ranelagh

Mike Newsham, Jake Mackay, Ria Timkin, and Tenderhooks at the Ranelagh, Brighton

By Michael Kemp

Review of Mike Newsham , Jake Mackay , Ria Timkin , and Tenderhooks at the Ranelagh, Brighton , .

Ria Timkin
Ria Timkin

Woke up late Sunday morning, Chinese dim sum (from 18 Grocery 雜貨店) for breakfast, and time for a quick bath; then a car over to The Ranelagh pub ~ for an afternoon of “Sunday Sessions”…

Arrived during Mike Newsham’s set ~ a feral wild-eyed stare from beneath curtains of black hair ~ attacking his guitar with a primal passion, a sense of urgency, complex shapes punctuated by angry stabs of acoustic and slapping of the frets ~ why pay £150 to see Neil Young at the O2 in June, when I can see Mike Newsham down The Ranelagh strut his stuff on a Sunday afternoon for free?

Followed by the quieter Jake Mackay ~ introspective, but fine finger-picking, a few self-penned songs (“A Thousand Ships…”) and some interpretations of old Mississippi John Hurt, Big Bill Broonzy and The Reverend Gary Davis (“Bottle Up and Go”) numbers. Inspiring that people are still revisiting this blues material ~ cue folk-cellar flashbacks from “Bunjies Coffee House” or “Les Cousins” in the Soho of my eternally-wasted youth. Time for another pint…

And then ~ the welcome shock of the new ~ Ria Timkin ~ from Moscow, via Bristol ~ beat boxes, Loop-station FX pedals and a mouth melodica. She manages to retain a feline grace and composure (even a hint of sensuality) while simultaneously marshalling an array of percussion and loop effects.

Some great haunting songs: “Fearless”, “I’m In My Twenties” (there’s no truth in the rumour that I’m considering my own cover version: “I’m In My Sixties”) ~ this performance captivates, and bodes well for her future…

Tenderhooks
Tenderhooks

Markus Tenderhooks Napier arrives on the scene ~ with a stripped-down version of Tenderhooks, but enough of them for a quick shake of the peaches and a touch of the Georgie Fames on “Say Yes” ~ a rather gorgeous “Blue Sky Train” ~ a seasoned, worldly-wise voice that’s been around the block a few times, but not so many times that he can’t write good songs and sing about it…be it doo-wop, ska, or Jazzy lowlife…

And, lest we forget, “I’m in the Doghouse” (appropriate, as we had a large black dog running around the pub barking at the customers) ~ and a rousing “Brighton is Falling into The Sea” ~ I think Tenderhooks were still auctioning a copy of their “Loving Sword” album as I wandered out into the bright sunny carnival aura of St James Street, looking for a taxi ~ back home in time for Sunday tea (before ’er indoors changes all the locks again).

An excellent and diverse afternoon’s entertainment ~ all for the price of a pint or two ~ you know what I say? I say: Keep it live, keep it real…

Sunday Sessions at The Ranelagh