Concert Review – Chris Helme

Words by Ben Macnair – Photography by Dave Jones

With a back-ground as a busker, and time spent supporting such bands as U2 and The Rolling Stones, the singer-songwriter and guitarist Chris Helme bought his many years of experience on the foot-hills of live music when he appeared at Lichfield Guildhall on April 29th. His weathered vocal, and sprightly guitar playing ran through a wide range of styles and genres, from blues inflected songs, to pop and rock songs from recent years, whilst his own songs stood their ground when played next to more familiar fayre.

Having first come to notice as the lead singer of The Sea-Horses, a band who peaked during the dying days of Britpop, and then spending years as the acclaimed leader of The Yards, Helme’s most recent re-invention as a soloist has seen the launch of the well received The Rookery, and a series of concerts in smaller, more intimate venues.

His sound encompassed soulful folk, the 1970’s sound of the Laurel Canyon, and more modern song-writing styles in a set that was haunting, embracing, and all too human. His own songs set alongside well played versions of A Friend of the Devil by The Grateful Dead, Paul Simon’s Peace Like a River, and Ronnie Laine’s Ooh La La, here turned into a rousing singalong for the audience. However, the loudest reaction were for his two best known songs from his Sea-Horse days, Blinded By The Sun, and Love Is The Law, both potent reminders of the power of songs to take audiences back to earlier times.

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