Mary Lee's Corvette @ The One Eleven Club, Sheffield (13/02/04)

Support: Brian Houston

I caught this, the last gig of Mary Lee's Corvette's UK tour, having already seen them a few days earlier in Nottingham. The band and support were the same. The venue, sadly, was not.

This was my first time at Sheffield's new One Eleven club which had been open for about a month I think. The venue was poor and I simply cannot recommend this to someone who, like myself, paid to attend and witness a quality act. Instead you are crammed into a long thin dining room with little space (the website blatantly stated that it could hold 100 people - I'm sorry but this is nothing but a lie!) and where the so-called audience were feeding their mouths and not their ears. During the gig, ignorant people continued to talk through the performances. How rude!!

So, basically the one eleven club has attempted to blend food and music and failed. The venue is not big enough to do both. Instead it has managed to irritate those who'd paid to dine (people crowding around their dinner tables with the added inconvenience of live noise) and those who'd paid to listen (people clattering knives and forks, chatting and occupying valuable floor-space).

Anyway, with that out of the way, it's onto the music itself...

Brian Houston was present providing the support. I was under the impression that there would be no support act on this occassion so I was surprised and happy to see Brian emerge at about 9.30 having thoroughly enjoyed his set at Nottingham on the 4th.

Brian was playing his own tracks again and played for about 30 minutes I think. I felt he was slightly less expressive than his previous performance but I put that down to the unsuitable venue. There was very little space on stage and we (the crowd) were pushed right up to the edge of it due to the farcical seating arrangements. After his set, Brian thanked the audience and apologised if he'd given anyone indigeston. Maybe it was just me, but I took this as a subtle criticism of those too hungry to lend their ears.

The staff tried to convince people to move to the back of the room (behind the noisy eaters) several times but we opposed their suggestions. No way! We'd paid to get in to see a show and we weren't moving. They even offered to give us our money back and let us leave but I'm sorry - we just weren't going to be bulldozered. In the end we compromised by sitting on the edge of the stage which wasn't ideal but at least it meant we had the best view in the house!

At the end of his set, Brian did his "Caravan routine" on his song about putting down your childish things which (forgive my ignorance) I don't know the title of, but has become increasingly difficult to get out of my head. He came back on for an encore. I'm not sure I've ever seen a support act do an encore? He asked for requests so I shouted out 'Caravan' and he declined, jokingly muttering something about having been playing Van Morrison for half of his life.

Mary Lee's Corvette put on another good show although they seemed to be experiencing a fair amount of bad luck. There were brief early tuning problems with Rod advising Mary Lee on which strings were too flat orsharp. Later, one of Mary Lee's guitar strings snapped during Give it to the Needy. They kept on playing whilst Brian jumped up onto the stage and readied his guitar for Mary Lee to use instead. The song was completed with minimal disruption. Unfortunately though, several severe bouts of feedback attacked the band and the crowd and I heard (Oh yes, I was very close!!) Rod say "we gotta can this guitar". So they did.

Just as the chaos was taking over, Mary and Rod decided to play a song they'd not done before by Aimee Mann. Talk about guts! I can't remember the title and am not familiar with many of Amie's songs. Suffice is to say, they recovered well albeit a bit risky.

They had opened with Tangled up in Blue. It was brilliant! What a lovely surprise. It was possibly the best song of the evening for me. And what bravery! Imagine choosing to start with such a wordy number with just Mary on vocals and tambourine and Rod on guitar. Mary Lee mimicked Dylan's phrasing almost syllable for syllable. After all, only fools choose to re-invent the wheel.

Mary did the "hand mitten as allegedly used by people from Michigan to describe where they live within the state" routine before launching into Portland, Michigan which is amusing (and sweet).

I had to leave to get my train just at the end of the Redemption Day which is a shame cos I missed the last song and the encore.

Mary had announced that they had 700 Miles CD's for sale but that they had run out of Blood on the Tracks CD's. I was gutted. I was looking forward to buying a copy and asking Mary to sign it 'our conversation was short and sweet'. Nevermind. I guess I could always try again next time they come around (and let's hope there is a next time, and that it's not too long).

Set List: (again, I have generated this list simply from memory and I left just as the last song was being introduced but have been reliably informed since that they played "All the Rage" as an encore)

  • Tangled up in blue
  • More Stupider
  • Out from Under it
  • Portland, Michigan
  • 700 Miles
  • The Nobody Song
  • You're gonna make me lonesome when you go
  • Give it to the needy
  • Redemption Song
  • Encore: All the rage

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