5:29pm Wednesday 28th March 2012
By Charles Hutchinson
LIZ Jones hails from a Liverpool lineage of rag-and-bone men and executioners. She knows how to make ends meet, you could say.
She is still in the cottage-industry phase of her career, designing her own linocut album sleeve and tour posters to accompany O, Devotion!, the tardy debut she took four years to complete from her Levenshulme flat she shares with a rescued piano.
Trained as a special needs teacher, she has a natural way of holding your attention, allied to a quirky humour that contrasts with the self-confessed “miserable” nature of much of her material.
Last time she played York, last December, it was in the all-standing back room of the Stereo bar. Tuesday was a seated affair, conducive to the intimate performance style she prefers, especially when playing with only her guitar, as she did while loosening up with Blind Willie McTell’s Dying Crapshooter’s Blues.
Her voice is retro blues, her music is more mid-temp jazz, especially once joined by Gus Fairbairn on tenor sax, Sam Buckley on double bass (or “upright violin” as she joked), and a bow-tied Phillip Howley on brushed drums.
“Do you want to be Lady Ga-Ga?” she was asked in Italy. “Not really, I want to be a harbinger of doom,” she told York, as she introduced a song about a man who had been to every funeral in his home city for 20 years.
“Is he the vicar?” jested a York wag. Liz took it in her stride. After all she had a trump card to play: pulling on the woollen bird’s head she had knitted (without a hole in the beak) for her a cappella rendition of the folk standard Who Killed Poor Robin?.
Handing the audience castanets and shakers for Rag & Bone, improvising mouth trumpet, and performing the encore French Singer seated in the dark beneath the stage lip, she was as much performance artist as singer-songwriter. Do catch her next time and bring your own avian attire.
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