There are a lot of really, really great acoustic-based artists around at the moment… well, there has been for some time really. Over the last ten years or so it has become more and more common for punk rock musicians to swap their electric instruments in favour of acoustic guitars – often swapping punk and hardcore for more folk, country or americana-influenced tunes. This acoustic aspect of the punk rock world is definitely not going away any time soon and I’m very happy about that.
I am just as passionate about this kind of acoustic music as I am lively and loud punk rock – besides, some artists can get pretty noisy on an acoustic guitar anyway! Colin was quick to recommend that I listen to a German musician called John Allen when he learnt of my love for acoustic punk rock. We listened to the album Sophomore in my car a few weeks later and I soon fell in love with his catchy tunes, gravelly voice and captivating lyrics. So it seemed only right that we should attend the London date of his UK tour, with Joe McCorriston, at the Lock Tavern in Camden.
John Allen and Joe McCorriston were joined by Patrick Craig, from North Yorkshire, who was first up. Neither Colin nor I had heard of him before but as soon as he started playing I knew I was going to like his music. Patrick’s songs were honest and relatable. I really liked the song ‘Hold My Jacket’ which is about enjoying being young and carefree before you have to grow up and be an adult – something I can completely identify with. After his set, Colin and I both agreed that Patrick was very Frank Turner-esque (think I Am Disappeared) but certainly not in a bad way. He has a new album coming out soon that I will definitely be checking out – and so should you!
Most people think of ‘acoustic’ music as being slow and quiet, but the kind of acoustic music that I enjoy the most is quite the opposite. The second man-with-guitar to grace the Lock Tavern’s stage was John Allen and he is the perfect example of this. He dove straight into his set, sounding every bit as good as on the record. John’s songs tell compelling stories of their own but this didn’t stop him from sharing more stories between songs. These dates made up his first proper tour of the UK. He told the audience how for his first ever London show, two years previously, the venue had failed to advertise exactly which Jo[h]n Allen was playing. So, of course, people turned up hoping to see the other one – I don’t know of the other Jo[h]n Allen but I doubt he is as good as this one! (Ironically, one of my workmates also made this mistake when I told her who I was going to see that night.) I thoroughly enjoyed the whole of John Allen’s set but, as with Patrick Craig, it is always nice to hear a song that you can relate to. ‘Blood Brothers’ was that song for me – a song about those friends that you don’t see so often anymore (‘My friends it’s been too long since we saw each other, Seems we got used to living without one another’).
Having only really come to see John Allen, it was an added bonus to have had the talented Patrick Craig open the show. It was equally excellent to finish the night with Joe McCorriston, another acoustic-guitar-wielding chap from the north of England – Lancashire seaside town, Morecambe. Unlike Patrick, I had listened to some of Joe’s music prior to the gig. He sounded pretty good to me on record but, as with many artists, it was seeing him live that really made me like him. The song that I particularly liked from listening beforehand was ‘Save Me’ and he played this mid-way through his set, introducing it as being about a ‘that crazy person that hangs about in your home town’. It was clear that Joe is a big punk rock fan, both in his own music and in his choice of cover songs to play. He started playing his own song, ‘C’est La Vie (Part 2)’, and then switched to playing ‘The 26’ by Apologies, I Have None which was a nice surprise. Although I imagine it sounded a little strange if you don’t know the song (the middle part of the song in particular)! Joe also covered ‘Cliché Guevara’ by Against Me! which was awesome. This is actually the second time I’ve heard Against Me! covered by an ‘acoustic’ artist this year – Tim Vantol covered Sink, Florida, Sink when I saw him back in April.
All three artists are well worth checking out on their respective Bandcamp pages but I would highly recommend catching them live if you can. I think this kind of music is best experienced live and I’d happily see these guys again soon.