Mike Atkinson

Gallery 47 – Nottingham Rescue Rooms, Monday September 17

Posted in gigs, LeftLion, Rescue Rooms by Mike A on October 9, 2012

Originally written for LeftLion.

This time last year, Jack Peachey was riding the crest of a wave. Retaining the name of Gallery 47 from a previous band, but recording and performing as a solo artist, his album Fate Is The Law had earned good reviews, and his name was beginning to be tipped for wider success, beyond the supportive confines of the regular Nottingham gigging circuit.

But then, with appalling timing, disaster struck. Clobbered by an illness that he couldn’t shake off, Jack’s strength was sapped for months on end. Worse than that, the condition had attacked that most precious asset, his voice. For three whole months, the singer couldn’t even speak. And yet, agonisingly, the offers continued to roll in, offering him opportunities that no artist would ever normally turn down. Laid up and lying low, by necessity rather than choice, Jack entered what he now freely admits was a period of personal emotional turmoil.

Finally, over a year since his last live show, Gallery 47 returned to the upstairs stage at the Rescue Rooms, supporting headliner Rachel Sermanni. Friends and well-wishers were thick on the ground, and an atmosphere of warm goodwill prevailed.

As the space filled with that instantly familiar combination of piercing, reedy vocals and intricately curling and tumbling guitar lines, it swiftly became clear that those long months of inactivity hadn’t left a single dent on Jack’s performing skills. A ring of seated supporters formed at his feet, settling in for the ride. Smiles met smiles, reverberating around the room.

The man himself was in a relaxed, good-humoured frame of mind, shrugging off the oppressive heat and offering us background context for some of his newer songs. Waiting For My Girl dealt with the immediate emotional aftermath of relationship, when you know that you’re supposed to “move on”, yet stubbornly refuse to do so. Mister Baudelaire was a song about critics. Another song addressed the events of the past year, with some baldly candid lines that hung in the air (“Oh no, what about the DHP show, feel I’m falling down”), and other passages that defied straightforward interpretation – for as Jack explained, when you’re feeling sick and all you can do is scribble lyrics, then some pretty strange metaphors can emerge. On Invasion, another new composition, the lyrics faded away halfway through the song, replaced by wordless – but no less communicative – keening and wailing.

Unlike certain other talented young acoustic singer-songwriters from this city, Jack’s cheerfully uncool demeanour is never going to win him fashion spreads in FHM magazine, or showcase gigs for casual clothing companies – but if there’s any justice in the world, his remarkable talents shouldn’t be hidden from wider public recognition for too much longer. In the meantime, a five-track EP, Dividends, is due out soon as a free download.  “That’s because I can’t be bothered to sell anything”, Jack grinned, doling out the last remaining copies of his album to anyone who wanted them. But as nice as it is to receive freebies, we can only hope that his gifts soon find their true and deserved reward.

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