The Graham Parker Duo featuring Brinsley Schwarz

Review Date May 5, 2015

Review By Nick Dalton

Location Union Chapel, Islington

“It’s irony,” says Parker, greyer but no less wiry or pithy than he was 35 years ago. He’s talking about the billing. His label, Universal, apparently said it sounded like a working men’s club act with a performing dog. He points to Schwarz, wearing a black polo neck, and you can see the humour, raunchy roots rockers reinventing themselves as a not-really-acoustic duo. And he chuckles at how the label banned a competition to win a home concert in case they, well, went wild and broke something. This packed gig is part of a tour supporting the new album, MYSTERY GLUE, with the reformed and reunited Rumour before the full band heads out in the autumn. Parker plays acoustic for a bit then turns to electric, Schwarz is electric throughout, so this is far from a genteel acoustic event. And they’re certainly not sitting down. Parker’s music swings (as he tells us) and the evening does too. Whether it’s Flying Into London from the new album or Silly Thing from the 1976 debut HOWLIN’ WIND there’s a delicious warm and contented feel to it. Parker’s music in the punky 70s and glossy 80s occasionally tried to be something it wasn’t; here (and on the new album) there’s a relaxed yet still edgy groove. The gig is a happy trawl through the years. It’s gripping when Parker spits out Hey Lord Don’t Ask Me Questions (which becomes a singalong, but not so much as to make anyone unduly embarrassed) and his hit cover of Hold Back The Night, but it’s just as uplifting when he encores with the rip-roaring Railroad Spikes from the new album. Parker has always brought together rock, country and soul, the cornerstones of American music, infused with a Brit energy – and he does it just as well with a duo as a band. Nick Dalton

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