The talented singer songwriter and one-man band Paul Liddell played a set that ranged from his own material, to songs from the musicals, and produce live sound-capes that were inventive and musical when he played at Lichfield Guildhall.Four albums into a career that has seen him captivate audiences with his unique sound, and performance style the Sunderland native appeared at ease on stage, whilst juggling any number of live loops, harmony and lead singing, percussion, and live trumpet. He joked that his act wasn’t popular in many of the more purist folk clubs.
The set featured many of his own compositions, but perhaps the highlight of the first set was his version of Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, that saw him produce a choir of voices, looped guitars and percussion, and multi-layered trumpet that deserved every clap in the ovation that it received.
Although, loosely described as folk, most of the songs were more concerned with more up to date issues, such as social media, and the redeeming power of caffeine, whilst his voice, which could convey any type of emotion was as powerful as his playing. His guitar sound and style was similar to the lamented Michael Hedges, using multiple alternative tunings, and playing parts over the top of each other, but the effect pedals he used were used to musical, rather than technical effect. The set opener, Lilac Wine was a case in point, taking its cue from the Jeff Buckley version, it saw Liddell haunting vocals reaching, effortlessly, the top part of his vocal range, whilst a song like Electricity used far simpler guitar techniques to makes its point.
The first set was finished with a roofing raising version of Bruce Springsteen’s The Ghost of Tom Joad, with the tale of desolation perfectly suited to the treatment, complete with feral guitar noise that Liddell delivered.
The second set featured more original songs, with the likes of Little Rivers looking at perserverence in the modern world, and Wasting Time being about social media.Hurricanes, though was also a great set finisher, its seemingly uncomplicated chord progression building and building to a crescendo of feral noise. An encore of Glycerine by Bush slowed the pace, and showed Paul Liddell still has a lot to say when he is not so reliant on modern technology to make his point.