Paul Jackson of Adelphi fame is 68yrs young

Last night was Jacko’s 68th birthday. The auspicious occasion was celebrated with pals and patrons, down at the Adelphi club, the beating heart of Hull’s live music scene. There were balloons adorned with Paul’s face – with Carrolian instructions attached which read, ‘Blow me up’ – and cake and three music acts. 

The first a newish incarnation, from the homegrown jewel in anyone’s crown Matt Edible, and the Obtuse Angels; the second, The Brackish, a folk/prog fusion group hailing from Bristol, midway through a UK tour; and third, a homecoming gig for Sarah Johns Music Party… and cake. Did I mention the cake?

A sumptuous, light chocolate sponge with whipped cream, topped with raspberries, shored up with chocolate flakes… ahh the cake. 

image courtesy Redlocz Full Flava

Matt Edible and the Obtuse Angels opened with trademark light and shade, vocals belted out over fuzzy shoe-gazey brilliance all scarred with sacred and profane poetry: the cheeky perennial fav Astronauts, the sing-along Nightclubbing, and a marked shift in feel with the looser, heavier Mirror Shoes; a playful swipe at Britpop, before ending with a brooding finale. A simply brilliant set. Look out for Mirror Shoes coming out soon which will be the next single I think. 

The Brackish, new to me but not new to the Adelphi, this would be their fourth visit to the world renowned venue on De Grey street. I described them earlier as folk prog but that doesn’t paint the entire picture, it would barely scratch the surface of the canvas. The Brackish embark on epic, sprawling, amorphous numbers that continuously evolve, like freeform jazz. Sinuous and sublime each band member virtuosic, so in step with what the other is doing as time signatures shift, lead and rhythm switch sides, reigned in by creative drums. 

image courtesy Redlocz Full Flava

‘I wish I had some mushrooms,’ says a voice at my elbow, ‘This is so trippy…’ 

‘Now’s the time to drop ‘em, if you’ve got ‘em,’ I reply.

Playing for close to an hour, The Brackish took us on an instrumental voyage of discovery, at times heavy with driving riffs and drums to match, and flights of folkloric fantasy, likely to be found dancing in shimmery delight, deep in the Somerset hills.

I watched Paul calling for an encore from The Brackish, with which they heartily responded setting up another epic finale, with Paul declaring their brilliance at every turn. 

After the candles were blown out on the aforementioned cake, and the club had sung the de rigueur birthday anthem, it was time for the return of Sarah Johns Music Party. ‘I’ve been away for some fifteen years,’ Sarah says, after thanking Paul for a heartfelt speech, and the invitation to play on his birthday night. Sarah did return to Hull during the intervening years at least once when she played Adelphi 30, that night she had the crowd mesmerised and chanting, in some kind of strange, yogic reverie.

image courtesy Redlocz Full Flava

Tonight with just her voice, a loop pedal and considerable stage presence, Sarah Johns skilfully delivers an effortless set of sung and spoken words. There’s one about a couple of pigeons, another embodies the feeling of coming home: after a surreal search for a donkey in Cottingham; and a character fuelled spoken word treat harking back to the days when U.S. chat show queen Ricki Lake ruled the airwaves.  

Each one like a diary entry torn from the page and set free, cushioned in gently layered harmonies and looped beats… so delicate a sounding vocal, fragile and emotional, sung with humour and lightness and depth: mesmeric once again.   

Thank you Paul, thank you Adelphi and staff, for the fab night of birthday fun, fine music and the evergreen atmosphere… see you on the 21st for Fonda 500. 

Paul Jackson with MVT Outstanding Achievement Award 2019 picture from @TheAdelphiClub https://www.theadelphi.com/

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