Sixpiece Americana-tribute band Flagstaff have created an evening of infectious, good-natured, toe-tapping fun in the environs of the Jazz Bar. Decking the stage in civil war era style flags, both music and staging takes the audience back to darker, bygone times. There are songs about heartbreak, alcoholism, and death, but the night is saved from becoming too maudlin by singer Paul Lyall’s affable banter and easy way around the stage. Added to this, Ian Richardson’s driving drum-beat means that the songs rattle along at a steady lick.
A solid night of entertainment delivered with panache and warm-heartedness.
Neil Young’s Don’t Cry No Tears kicks off the 90-minute gig, followed up by a rollicking rendition of Bad Liver and A Broken Heart, made famous by Tom Waits, and given the Americana-treatment by Hayes Carll. Other white American males feature - Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Ryan Adams, Carl Perkins - and if there’s one sore point it’s that the set list could be a little more inspired and a little less, well, male. That said, all tracks are delivered with skill, precision, and enthusiasm, and the pace never slackens. Lyall sings with conviction and the presence of an accordionist throughout engenders an authentic hoedown feel to proceedings. Even a cover of Fred Eaglesmith’s Alcohol and Pills, with its roll call of dead stars - Hendrix, Williams, Presley - sounds surprisingly punchy and upbeat with a full band, and some straight-down-the-line vocals. There’s no doubt that the musicians are enjoying themselves and the snippets of Americana trivia inserted between songs hint at a pleasing depth of knowledge.
Finishing with a stomping cover of Nick Lowe’s (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding, we are sent off into the night with a smile and a renewed appreciation of the old classics. A solid night of entertainment delivered with panache and warm-heartedness.