REVIEW: Shrewsbury Arms Festival – Aug 2012

THIS was an event that was going to be a bigger affair than it turned out. Unfortunately grey showery skies put pay to this. But that didn’t dampen the spirits of the performers who pressed on with a series of unplugged performances. Shaun McCoy went along to soak up the atmosphere.

The music was organised by Shrewsbury Arms barman Jay Whelligan who is also singer/guitarist also performing on today’s bill. It’s an afternoon full of laid back songs sung by a collection of Wirral solo artists.

Jay is first up to the mic, with a short set of contemporary and vintage covers such as Dreaming of You (The Coral) Tickle Me Pink (John Flynn), Blackbird and Sunny Afternoon. The young maestro is trying something different in a pub that is not normally renowned for its live music. So hopefully Jay’s new venture might carry on in a pub that is well known around the Wirral.

Neal John Lewis is on next singing a set of Johnny Cash songs. Neal, like Jay is an admirable performer with a good grasp of Johnny Cash’s material. Neal entertains us with an array of classics including A Boy Named Sue and Folsom Prison.

Jay’s renowned Uncle, singer/songwriter, Jamie Whelligan is up next. Jamie plays a lot of intimate venues and also doubles as licensed performer on the London Underground. His set is a small batch of his own material and a collection of splendid covers. Jamie kicks off with a refined rendition of the Lou Reed’s Perfect Day before moving onto the handsomely good Playing in Sunshine, a track off his album Salad Days. Jamie goes onto grace us with more joyfully sung originals like Soon and Happiness, both tracks are filled with a warmth and optimism. Other illuminating covers include There is a Light That Never Goes Out and Love’s definitive song Alone Again.

The final act on the bill is one of Wirral’s finest female vocalists. Jade Tremarco brings a powerfully soulful prescence to the proceedings with a catalogue of distinguished covers. Particular highlights from Jade’s set were the rousing Black Horse and the Cherry Tree (KT Tunstall) and an a highly accomplished rendition of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters.

Hopefully there might be more music entertainment at the Shrewsbury Arms. Watch this space.

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