Wednesday, 11 April 2007

REVIEW: Jonathan McArthur


By Hans Weston

Walking down the stairs to the basement Happy Bar, I could hear
someone playing guitar and singing but no chattering or people sounds.
I thought we might be the first to arrive at this evening of acoustic
balladry. After paying the polite $5, I could see there were a good
number of quiet patrons sitting at candle-lit tables paying guitarist
Brad Taylor every bit of attention. You could've heard a pin drop in
between chords. In fact, a pin was heard to drop. The bar-maid mutely
handed me a drinks list and I half whispered "speights old dark"
managing to catch the last three songs of Brad Taylor's set. Brad has a
really great voice, and I enjoyed his folk style covers and originals
which were perfect in this setting.

It was then Jonathan McArthur's turn to take the stage with an eight
song set of originals. Jonathan's songs are of a very high standard
with melodies and hooks that grow on you after only a few listenings.
However, the songs "Once" and "Risk" which I hadn't heard before were
immediately captivating. It's hard not to liken Jonathan's approach to
the likes of Thom Yorke with his measured and melodic voice, but yet
there is a strong streak of originality and individuality shining
through all of his material. The highlight of his set was "Building
Boats in the Basement", a song which conjures up a yearning for the
peacefulness obtained from a Sunday afternoon hobby that is all yours
and is locked away from all distractions....or perhaps that's just my
sentimentality. Jonathan effortlessly deploys a number of unusual
chords, arrangements and practiced finger work into his songs, which
to this wanna-be guitarist were great to hear and see. I'll look
forward to his next live performance.

Unfortunately, I couldn't stay to hear Emma Boniface, but as she began
the crowd were just as attentive as they had been for the previous two
musicians. It was a delight to be somewhere where people actually
listen to the music, rather than swilling beer and mindlessly
heckling. (Which can be fun too.) -Jonathan McArthur -Emma Boniface - Brad Taylor

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