Review – Lawson/Napier duo, Ronnie Scott's, Birmingham (Andy Long)


“A two-and-a-half hour drive culminate in a parking space on the fourteenth floor of a multi-storey car park, thanks to some big evangelical conference or other in the N.I.A. Fourteen flights of stairs and a short walk later and here we are at Ronnie Scott’s. Blimey! This is posh. No beer in plastic glasses, no tattooed, beer-bellied bouncers, just ridiculously named food at hugely inflated prices. Never mind – we’re on the guest list.

I meet up with Steve for an interview before the gig, the fruits of which can be read elsewhere. For tonight’s performance Steve Lawson, solo bassist has teamed up with cellist Harry Napier, whose credits include working on the last couple of Martyn Joseph albums. This is the first of two gigs at Ronnie’s where the lads will be supporting Lou Dalgleish.

Steve and Harry open the set with ‘The Inner Game’, also the opener from Steve’s solo album. This gives Steve the chance to show some of the capabilities of his JamMan as he deftly plays a neat little chord sequence and then loops it and interweaves the melody over the top, then passes the same melody over to Harry. Harry himself is an accomplished and thoughtful musician, evident in his own piece ‘Dream’ and in his later solo spot.

Steve’s pieces range from the melodic tunes through to the more ambient stuff like ‘Drifting’- a space-conscious solo piece which sees steve’s favourite toy, the E-Bow given an airing. On the more melodic side the piece ‘Blue Sticks’ borrows tunes from ‘Blue Moon’, ‘Chopsticks’ and ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’, interspersing them neatly with it’s own original melody.

The favoured bass for this evening’s performance is the new Modulus fretless six-string, an instrument of which I am insanely jealous and fully intend to steal one day. The tone from Steve’s Ashdown 300-watt combo is crisp and clear with perfect projection, bass players worldwide would give their guitarist’s right arm to sound like this! As the duo close the set with the hauntingly beautiful ‘Bittersweet’ the small but appreciative crowd applaud politely and I’m left to contemplate those fourteen flights of stairs.”

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