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"Live at the Melting Pot" by TwoManTing

Review

When I reviewed the current TwoManTing single "Gbangbaode" for you last week & at the end advised you of their upcoming live album, I really didn't expect it to be as upcoming as it turned out to be, as here I am again to tell you about so soon afterwards.

As I mentioned last time, the album was recorded at two sold out Cornwall shows (which I understand the band particularly enjoyed) and from those gigs seven tracks have been put together with the help of Brendan McGreal of Cornish Underground to create "Live at the Melting Pot": what an apt venue title for a band which incorporates such diverse inspirations & melds them into something new & original.

It is another rather spooky coincidence that not only is this review hot on the heels of its predecessor but it also follows  my review of Nizlopi's "Live in London" album from earlier this week: both are duos, each fuses together different musical traditions & above all they both operate best when in some form of communion with a live audience. Thus I would probably favour seeing either live over listening to the records (though in the absence of gigs the latter will suit me just fine) and you might experience a slight regret & frustration at hearing a live recording & not being able to be there.... that goes with the territory of the best live recordings & at least is a spur to be determined to catch them live at the next opportunity.

The musicianship of course is sublime so there is no drop in quality from the studio versions which is something you'd expect from players of the quality, experience & taste of Jon Lewis and Jah-man Aggrey. What you get is sort of "Studio Version Plus": all the essence with extra live frisson on tracks which range from their originals to live favourite cover "Guns of Brixton".

It's more of course than an exercise in "that will keep us going until we can see them live again": this is, as I have said, a band whose key environment is the live gig & a live album was surely necessary (and presumably planned pre-lockdown) and all the more enjoyable at a time where artists whose work emanates joy are especially welcome. The album works extremely well at capturing excellent performances in what was clearly an excellent atmosphere: the next best thing to actually having been able to be there.

You can acquire "Live at the Melting Pot" from this link:

https://twomanting.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-the-melting-pot

and if you buy it today (June 5th), TwoManTing will particularly benefit as Bandcamp are waiving their share of the income from sales.

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"Gbangbaode" by TwoManTing

Review

I last reviewed TwoManTing for this magazine in a live context back last November & I trust you'll recollect my sense of enjoyment of that evening, not least because I had not seen them for quite some time.

Their fame & popularity outside our area contributed to that &  other factors have conspired to ensure that I've not been able to see them since. However, some compensation can be had with telling you about their pre-lockdown single "Gbangbaode" (which I am advised means "in the open").

It's an intriguing one for sure, both consistent with their general body of work yet different from anything else I've heard by them. While Jon Lewis plays a delicate picked guitar line which sits somewhere between  their customary African style & classical English folk, percussionist Jah-man Aggrey  delivers a recitative style lyric, (occasionally echoed/harmonised by Jon) which gives guidance, advice & other sundry wisdom (some of it allusional in form) and questions us sternly if compassionately.  It (like much of their work) has an apparent simplicity which conceals more complex elements: the tune itself is uplifting and melodic (no bad thing especially now) but the vocal tone more grave (befitting the times). Clearly composed before COVID-19 the words do not directly address it, yet they resonate with the times, catching something of the mood, or to be precise those aspects of the collective mood which expressed community solidarity & responsibility towards others: an awareness that we are part of something bigger in terms both of the world & history.

The single comes with an additional track in the form of Peter Tosh's "Can't Blame The Youth".

Since live performances & studio recordings are not currently possible, the next release from TwoManTing will be a live album of a gig in Cornwall made with the help of Cornish Underground which sounds something to anticipate with pleasure.

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TwoManTing

Review

Watching TwoManTing last night at the Town House in Leamington, one of my immediate thoughts was "it's been too long" since I last saw them live..... What a pleasure it was. Obviously if you get successful, you end up playing at all sorts of places far & wide & who can begrudge guitarist Jon Lewis & drummer/percussionist Jah-man Aggrey the width of their appeal. Still, it was good to have them back & the full audience showed I was far from the only one.

They were in excellent form of course but other thoughts which spun through my mind like the bewitching rhythms my ears were hearing included the appreciation not just of their technical skills (mighty as they are) but their taste & discretion. Songs often appeared deceptively simple. There was usually much space left in them (always a plus with me & a stark contrast to those much less authentic "world music" acts who seem to think that having large lineups with everyone playing frenetically on top of each other is cool...) and above all both artists demonstrate a beautiful "feel" for their instruments. A lot of guitarists one comes across are touted, many deservedly so for technical proficiency & of course there are many styles they play in, but I can't think of anyone of this particular style who plays with the finesse & touch of Jon. Though what the style is can be more elusive to describe. I suppose jazz must enter the mix, but the predominant element is definitely African highlife plus dub stylings at times. And all on one acoustic.

The songs themselves were predominantly their own, with the customary well crafted & directed lyrics, many from the current ‘Rhymes with Orange' album (check it out) but Clash fans were very well catered for with the covers of "Armagideon Time" & "Guns of Brixton".

Unsurprisingly, dancing broke out & regular Town House concert attendees The Goose & The Trout when asked expressed their enjoyment: a seal of approval. The latter reported to me that it wasn't what she was expecting, so hopefully TwoManTing not only pleased their existing fans but gained some new ones.

Personally I do hope that not so long elapses again between my seeing them live.

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