Jake Morley & Sam Brookes

Jake Morley last appeared at the John Peel Centre back in February of 2012 accompanied by John Parker on double bass.  I know this because I was there, indeed I interviewed both at the time.  Jake is no stranger to Stowmarket having played at StowFest in 2011, as well as a bizarre little set outside a charity shop in the Meadow Centre in the rain.

It was a pleasure to catch up briefly before the show last night.  Oddly enough we talked about X-Factor artists and how what they do differs from what Jake, and many others like him do.  They are part of an entertainment industry, which he does not see himself as part of.  That Jake is entertaining there is no doubt, the next couple of hours would prove that.

First up on stage was Sam Brookes, a face I was sure I recognised but now doubt that I have heard play before – for if I had I would have remembered that voice.  It was Sam’s voice, nothing else, that opened proceedings.  With no introduction Sam simply took to the stage, ensured his guitar was in tune and sang “Intro” – you could hear a pin drop as Sam’s ethereal sound grabbed everyone in the room and made us listen.

Sam’s feather light touch on his guitar was the perfect accompaniment to his songs.   He finished his set with “Crazy World and You” – I dare you to buy Sam’s album “Kairos” and not hit repeat on that track.

Jake Morley is possibly best known for his percussive guitar playing style.  As much a visual delight as anything else, he sits and plays guitar almost like it were a piano.  To begin with Jake played his guitars in a more traditional style.  Without the visual distraction it was the music that took over – it is all about lyrics, melody and arrangement, with a little help from the loop box at his feet.

Jake’s “Serious Duet with his Unconscious Mind” performed when his conscious mind is played by facing right of stage, his unconscious facing left of stage is in fact, a very deep and serious song but his amusing movements on stage brought to my mind thoughts of a very bad ZZ Top tribute act – sorry Jake, my mind sometimes works in strange ways!

His new material from the album “The Manual” is a very different is some ways to what I remember hearing four years ago.   Life would get very boring if artists did not progress and change “Time don’t stand still” being an appropriate line for the title track.  In the song “Ghostess” one line in particular stayed with me: “…our toothbrushes still seem to kiss”, serving to remind us that he can write as well as he plays.

Knowing how we audiences are with new material, Jake punctuated his set with some old favourites such as “Feet Don’t Fail Me” and “Pondering on a Scenario in which I am a Hero”.  Jake’s finish was hampered by the live guitarists worst nightmare – a string broke, though that didn’t prevent him from completing what he was playing.

The John Peel Centre was the perfect venue for these two artists to showcase their work, both declaring a wish to come back, let us hope they do!

Sam Brookes