The Shed reviews archive

Clogs and The Books – Yorkshire Evening Press 1 February 2006
The Shed’s Greatest Hits – Yorkshire Evening Press 11 November 2005
Stewart Lee – Yorkshire Evening Press 8 March 2005

Clogs and The Books at The Shed
REVIEW: Yorkshire Evening Press 01.02.06 by Charles Hutchinson

CLOGS, please meet The Books; The Books, please meet Clogs.

This American musical handshake was arranged by the British champions of the avant-garde, the Contemporary Music Network, and last week the two improvisational bands met up in Massachusetts for the first time, leading to new acoustic-electronic music to open and close a truly uplifting and adventurous night, played out to a Shed full house.

The stage was equally clogged up at the start when The Books’ Dutch cellist, Paul De Jong, and Massachusetts guitarist Nick Zammuto swelled the four-piece ranks of Clogs, with barely enough room to accommodate the ubiquitous Shed door.

Led by Australian violinist and principal composer Padma Newsome and his fellow member of cult rock band The National, guitarist Bryce Dessner, The Clogs worked to an ever expanding, intricate template of neo-classical and post-rock instrumental music that best recalled the Penguin Café Orchestra.

Dessner’s contemplative guitar, Rachael Elliott’s entrancing bassoon and Thomas Kozumplik’s chameleon percussion, steel drum and all, were compliant partners to Padmore’s continuous journey between inner calm and inner turmoil.

Only once did he break into song, aptly finding a lighthouse haven in Lantern.

Where Clogs were seriously serious, The Books brought a big, beatific smile with their serendipitous fusion of folk guitar, classical cello, elliptical vocals, found sounds and home video images from thrift stores, newly cut up to look at the world with delicious absurdity and all the unpredictable spring of a bouncy castle.

Even sharper than Lemon Jelly, this is strange, beautiful music for when you are lost in space.

The Shed’s Greatest Hits
REVIEW: Yorkshire Evening Press 11.11.05 by Charles Hutchinson

UNDER a slice of moon and stars as bright as American teeth, Hovingham’s queue for the Ryedale fish and chip van’s weekly village run was longer than usual. What’s more, the hiss of batter had a musical counterpoint.

There was Alan Tomlinson, serenading the throng. “Serenading” would be stretching it; whenever he hit a melodic stride, he stopped, his trombone more often gurgling, whooshing and whistling like the wind.

Tomlinson had passed this way before, on Steve Tate’s village chip beat in 2003, and on Wednesday he returned as part of The Shed’s Greatest Hits night of improvised music, his trombone slide fighting for control like Rod Hull’s Emu.

One of each tucked away at £3.10, the throng was drawn to a second pied piper outside the village hall: Lol Coxhill, picked out by arc lights, hunched over his curved soprano sax in a council skip.

Stranger still was the finale to a night that had drawn Shed-heads from Oxford, Chesterfield, York and probably Mars too.

Shed impresario Simon Thackray – the Heath Robinson of Ryedale – has invented performance bingo or bingo bango, if you prefer, wherein Malton bingo-calling legend Mrs Boyes does her stern best to ignore the scat-drumming of Mark Sanders, a sound outlawed under the Punk Reformation Act of 1976.

Full houses and a full Shed, fruit, booze and biscuit prizes, and suddenly Tomlinson and Coxhill added to Sanders’ cacophony. “Well, I must be crackers,” said Mrs Boyes.

Crackers? You would be mad to miss such delirium.

© 2005 Charles Hutchinson, Yorkshire Evening Press

Stewart Lee, Stand-Up Comedian, The Shed
REVIEW: Wednesday 08.03.05 Yorkshire Evening Press

Stewart Lee

by Charles Hutchinson

STEWART LEE calls his comeback show Stand-Up Comedian, perhaps as much to remind himself as his audience of his first calling.

The last few years, he has been directing Jerry Springer – The Opera, the runaway train of a controversial hit that he co-wrote, and he has returned to stand-up “older, greyer and heavier”. He is 37 next month, his spiked hair is greying at the temples, and he is heavier both in build and material. Once he “talked about nothing, which used to be fun”; now he is a social commentator and, like Mark Thomas and Mark Steel, he is picking holes in national and international politics and religious bigotry.

There is a quiet authority to him as he unhurriedly goes about setting up an established prejudice, countering it with a politically correct response and then deconstructing both positions with original thoughts. He can do the big themes, and he can pick on the petty minutiae too, gently mocking George Bush for his grammar as much as his policies and calculating that the day after 9/11 must be the 12th of December.

You could call Lee a smart-ass but he is too clever for that. You laugh smugly as he says he knew he was Scottish when he had a craving for shortbread, offal and heroin, and he promptly chips away at English truisms.

He has become a stealthy iconoclast, but one with his mischievous sense of fun delightfully undiminished.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005