Sam McNulty with Angelo Cardone & Bill CameronReview
Few "Hot Music Live" readers will need introducing to the name nor talents of Sam McNulty. Even if you weren't around for his late 1970's foundation of top Coventry punk band Squad (thereby launching the career of original vocalist Terry Hall), you may well have delighted in his much loved subsequent band The Giraffes & its successor Two Giraffes. Even those too young for either will know Sam for his ceaseless promotion, encouragement & mentoring of local musical talent via such avenues as open mics, his Godiva Festival & other festival stages & his writing.
True to his ethos, Sam crafted his own evening at the Magic Lantern also involving two great talents he had encountered via his music evenings, Angelo Cardone & Bill Cameron. Even the structure was carefully honed with the notion of "headliner" and "support" blurred in terms of running order & stage permutations, each playing a solo set, a final trio ensemble performance & combinations of them all as duos.
Sam began the evening with a beautiful solo set of material from the classic Two Giraffes' 2005 conceptual album "Twelve Songs", reminding us of the exquisite melodicism of that band & naturally evoking memories of the late Steve Edgson, Sam's partner in the band & many of whose friends were present. One of the songs he played in this part of the evening was "Clifftop Dreaming" which of course he kindly allowed up to use of Volume One of "Hot Music Live Presents"
Neapolitan Angelo Cardone is one of the artists making a big reputation locally at the moment, winning fans as soon as they hear his talents. A frequent BBC Coventry & Warwickshire Introducing presence, I myself witnessed jaws drop at his 2019 Godiva Festival performances. This classically trained tenor & superb guitarist offers our area so much: not least his repertoire of traditional Italian songs but also his own excellent, sensitive material plus moving interpretations of songs such as Don McLean's "Vincent" and "Through The Barricades" originally by Spandau Ballet. Not a combination one hears from a single artist too often. Singing in both Italian & English with equal facility, Angelo frankly entranced the room & received long & loud applause from the packed venue after every song.
Check out all things Angelo at his page: https://www.facebook.com/angelocardonesinger/
Bill Cameron is I understand, primarily a jazz pianist, (and I was lucky enough to hear him play during the soundcheck on the vintage Magic Lantern piano, so recently tuned that the tuner was sitting there enjoying it too), however we got to hear another three aspects of his talents tonight as he accompanied himself on guitar for a solo set demonstrating both his skills on that instrument and his equally excellent singing voice and then he accompanied both Sam & Angelo on sax.
The final portion was dedicated to more of Sam's canon: delving back into the Giraffes days for classics such as the beloved "Lazy Hazel Heart" single of 1990 and bang up to today for material from his forthcoming solo album (possibly to be titled "From The Land of the Broken Hearts")
I've heard Sam play both sets of material but usually solo, so the addition of Angelo on lead guitar & backing vocals plus Bill evoking the original clarinet parts of Steve Edgson (on the Giraffes songs) on his sax, added a great deal of nuance & texture & frankly brought back memories of the Giraffes with the similarity of the sound to the originals.
The new material fits in nicely with the old as Sam's melodicism & romanticism endures. Love & its loss feature strongly in his songs & he also has recurring weather/nature motifs. One new song concerning "Mademoiselle" particularly caught my attention, as it managed to feature lyrics in English, French & Italian.... the latter thanks to Angelo of course.
To say that the audience enjoyed it would be something of an understatement and it was another privilege to hear such writing & performance talent in a space & place where it could be enjoyed to such respectful advantage: can't wait to hear them again.
You can catch Sam's open mic sessions at Millsys in Earlsdon on Monday evenings (not a bad place to catch Angelo nor Bill either). Listen out too for Angelo on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire Introducing where he is getting regular plays.