John Renbourn and Wizz Jones

Septuagenarian guitar folk legends John Renbourn and Wizz Jones deliver a night of folk and blues, with varying degrees of success. The tracks themselves differ hugely in quality – from a cover of Robert Cray’s mighty Bad Influence to a rather dull, if not bizarre number about a racing pigeon, Corinne and the King of Rome. The guitar tone of both musicians is not quite right, with Jones sounding a little too thin, and Renbourn, a tad syrupy. Added to this, tempos wander, Renbourn slowing down and speeding up at random on the otherwise enjoyable bluesy Getting There that contains the audience-pleasing pay-off line ‘I ain’t downhearted but I’m getting there’.

The evening is a nostalgia trip for the audience, who lap up every familiar song.

That said, while they lack finesse, this was a pleasant way to spend an evening, even if it did feel more like a rehearsal than a professional concert. As you might expect, Bert Jansch, the co-founding father of folkie band, Pentangle - along with Renbourn - figures heavily in numbers such as Fresh As A Sweet Sunday Morning and Strolling Down The Highway. While Renbourn’s playing is a little clumsy, his voice is stronger than Jansch’s and sounds even better on a decent tune, as demonstrated in the rendition of Dylan’s Buckets of Rain. ‘This is as folky as it gets’, warns Jones, before embarking on a pleasing version of Omie Wise. The Lazy Farmer also represents the folky side of things well enough, though troubled folk star Jackson C. Frank’s Blues Run The Game feels fresher. Jones’s casual, laid back vocals work well on the solo, Weeping Willow Blues, but Cocaine Blues has arguably never sounded less convincing - a sleepy, dull rendition.

The evening is a nostalgia trip for the audience, who lap up every familiar song. Jones introduces the encore by asking his partner, ‘What shall we finish with?’. Renbourn complains about Jones’s suggestion by intoning, ‘I was thinking of something a bit easier’. When the closing song does come - (You Can Count On Me) To Do My Part - it is a competent, though uninspired performance, adjectives befitting of the concert as a whole.

Reviews by Ella Moran-Jones

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★★★
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Two of the greatest folk artists of our time on one stage! Luminary acoustic guitarist and songwriter, John Renbourn, teams up with Wizz Jones (cited by both Renbourn and Eric Clapton as an important early influence), to present an evening of classic acoustic folk and blues. John and Wizz will be performing both their own solo material at the concert as well as playing in a duo format. The combination of these rather special gentlemen will give you an evening of magical music and humorous tales blending guitar and song.