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Review: Books, Theatre, Movies, Albums & Gigs.

Alternative Radio

With guests, Jade Gallagher and Michael Rider

Pacific Road Arts Centre

Tuesday January 29, 2008

Image: Rob and Alan Fennah


Alternative Radio used to be everywhere on Merseyside once upon a time. Nowadays, it’s so rare to see Rob and Alan Fennah perform their fabulously eclectic material people might be forgiven for thinking they had given up performing live at all. Not a bit of it and, on this evidence, thank goodness for that as the two men behind the smash hit Liverpool musical, Two Pence To Cross The Mersey, and a soon to be released feature film, Julia’s Banjo, took to the stage it was clear they had been greatly missed.


Time is a strange thing. It embellishes some memories and diminishes others. On this evidence, the latter is the case because these guys are good. Very, very good.


From the opening number, Some People, to last, the Fennah brothers gave a performance filled with so much energy it was clear from the outset they too had missed performing and the gentle banter they shared with both each other and the audience – revolving in the main around Nicorette Gum statues being fashioned by Rob on his Microphone stand – helped ease the expectant 300 strong audience seated in this fabulous auditorium, into the swing of things.

Blending a mix of sixties Rock ‘n’ Roll with Calypso, Blues and Pop, Alternative Radio pumped out a catalogue of tunes that have made their name in these parts over the best part of thirty years. Some People has a very Hollies feel to it, I’ll Be Everything You Want Me To Be utilises vocal harmonies, acoustic guitar and Congas to create a group sound created by a just two performers that is just astonishing and on Going Under, Rob Fennah plays the Blues like a master, despite his admitting he doesn’t particularly like the style.

With live experiences in the past including playing Sydney Opera House and Budokan, Alternative Radio returned to their roots and delivered a near faultless set that was at once highly entertaining and deeply nostalgic and it can only be hoped that the Fennah’s don’t leave it so long next time until they hit the stage again.

Image: Jade GallagherOne further point. In support, Alternative Radio had two musicians who are worthy of note. Michael Rider, with his deeply moving lyrics and sound guitar playing, is clearly a fresh talent that will surely go on to become ever more recognised. Similarly, for those who enjoy crystal clear vocals, superb guitar playing and gently satisfying lyrics on a par with Eva Cassidy, then Jade Gallagher – who in 2007 supported the legend that is Bryan Adams – is destined, surely, for greatness, as she took the audience to her heart and delivered a twenty minute set to die for. Listen to Katy Says or After The Parade and judge for yourself

The banners might say “It’s Happening In Liverpool”, but rest assured live, original music is very much happening on Wirral, too, and long may it continue to do so.






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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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