THE Duchess isn’t a venue especially known for hosting intimate gigs, but that’s precisely what happened on Saturday evening.

Instead of being greeted by the usual crowds clamouring to catch a glimpse of the stage, this cavernous space was set up with tables topped with tea lights – the ideal ambience for the launch of Ryan Spendlove’s debut solo album, Fable.

Following two fine support slots from Ben Parcell and Edwina Hayes, York’s favourite adopted bluesman took to the stage to plenty of applause.

He then proceeded to show just why he and his music have been leapt upon by American label Candyrat, which invited him to record his album earlier this year in Chicago.

The crowd listened attentively as Ryan proceeded to take them on a musical journey, which went from the gentle finger-picking loveliness of the title track, through the passionate pop of Medicine, to the gospel-tinged Let Your Light Shine, the raucousness of Dirty Dog, and rounding off with the lovely Pretty Polly.

The audience, though, still wanted more, and were rewarded with Change My Mind, a breathtaking sliding blues track from Ryan’s former band, The Blueskins.

Following Ryan’s set, many of the audience were keen to snap up a copy of the album and, on the back of this performance, it’s not difficult to understand why they would want it on their stereos long after the last notes rang out from The Duchess.