Wednesday, November 18, 2009

tristram; complete live set in mp3, brighton

Although I'd never heard of him before, Tristram Bawtree, who plays his beautiful, tender folk songs as Tristram, has a Brighton connection; he studied Painting here a few years back (and his paintings, which you can find if you google him, are rather nice - abstract but detailed, mural-like), so it's appropriate that I should discover him by chance here, rather than in his native London. His songs - although the videos below are in black and white - are similarly colourful - tender, imaginative meditations fleshed out with sumptuous orchestration. The six songs he played in support of Peggy Sue at the Freebutt last month were uniformly fantastic.

On the night, he arrives on stage looking thoughtful, slightly nervous. From the first note, though, I am hooked - both by his beautiful voice and wonderful way with words. His songs are funny, critical and very intelligent. He is sardonic for someone so young (“When I hear the word culture I pull out my wallet / and peel off a banknote or two”), playful (in Zombie Holocaust he muses that "I'd only waste my life, so better I use it well / to stop the monsters, from taking my loved one”) and he is ambitious, too – Isolde, the closing track, is inspired by a Wagner opera that he has not yet seen.

Musically, there is incredible richness in his soft, delicate folk. And where he seemed a touch uncertain arriving on stage, a natural ease and confidence is quickly evident. He's able to demonstrate nimble touches that endear him to the audience (such as the arch Abba reference in Place In The Sea), and writes intelligently - only occasionally slipping up (the same song's "well, we're all going to die someday" reveals him to be a man with too many Jeff Lewis records in his collection). I'm pretty sure, however, by the end of the first song, that I'm watching the best live performance from a new band or songwriter I've encountered in 2009 - or longer.

It's clearly early days for Tristram - his debut single isn't out 'til February - but on the evidence of this short, artful set, he is absolutely brimming with promise. I await that single with baited breath.

In the meantime, here is a complete recording of the set - good enough, I think, to demonstrate just how brilliant he is - and a couple of videos made by Dan (who came away just as convinced as me that we'll be hearing lots more from him soon).

live at The Freebutt, Brighton
Weds 4th November, 2009

(right click and 'save target as' to download)
1. Someone Told Me A Poem
2. Ballad Of A Stolen Bicycle
3. Zombie Holocaust
4. Rhyme or Reason
5. Place In The Sea
6. Isolde

Here's where you go to track down Tristram on Facebook and myspace. He's also playing a bunch of gigs over the next month or so. Not to go to at least one of them (assuming you live in, or can get to London) would be to really miss out.

17 Nov 2009 Love & Milk @ Jamboree w/Jack Cheshire, London
26 Nov 2009 @ Soapbox with Derek Meins, London
1 Dec 2009 The Allotment @ Betsy Trotwood w/Caitlin Rose, London
6 Dec 2009 Moonshine Jamboree Xmas Party @ The Slaughtered Lamb w/ Left With Pictures, Jake Bellows and more, London
15 Dec 2009 The Tamesis Dock w/Peggy Sue & Curly Hair, London

The single is out on February 15th on Oh! Inverted World records, and will feature Someone Told me a Poem, Ballad of a Stolen Bicycle, Me and James Dean and Zombie Holocaust. As soon as a link to pre-order it is available, I'll be posting it here.

Lastly, many thanks to Tristram and his lovely manager Anthony for giving me permission to post these tracks. Much appreciated. Thanks also to Brad over at Bradley's Almanac, who's been posting this sort of stuff for years and inspired me to start chronicling and posting live recordings of shows I go to. Following his lead, I recorded these songs with a (borrowed) MD player (thanks Dan) and a Sony ECM-719 mic. Hope you like them - any comments much appreciated.

5 comments: said...

Good post..

Nice clip of 'Ballad of a Stolen Bicycle' just posted here on YouTube -

Caroline said...

Wow - just listened to the first one and it's incredible. Downloading the rest now. Top work!

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention the amazing musicians that play with Tristram! All incredibly talented.

Jonathan said...

Very true! One thing that was so lovely about the set was how beautifully the songs were arranged - and impeccably performed by all involved!

Tiffany said...

Great, thank you for this, especially the downloads. Tiff xx