Mark Morriss, Kashmir Red, The Trade and Wilson – Cafe Drummonds – 22/09/10
A review of Mark Morriss from JoJo and selection of pictures from the night.
From getting up onto the stage with his guitar case and doing his own sound check, to chatting with the fans after the gig, Mark Morriss strikes me as a decent kinda guy. Known mainly as the front man of the 1990’s indie band The Bluetones, Mark treats the crowd to a mixture of Bluetones hits, solo songs and what he describes as “cheeky covers”. When I first heard Mark’s solo album, I wasn’t sure how it would transfer to live gigs, it’s quite a mellow, laid back album, one of them albums you might listen to on a chilled evening just before bed. The way Mark arranges his set list really makes his laid back solo material work with the up tempo Bluetones songs and an all round enjoyable experience.
Personally, I expected Mark to start with an upbeat Bluetones classic to get the crowd going, but surprisingly, he opened with a song from the Bluetones album released earlier this year, A New Athens, which was incidentally written in my hometown of Elgin! Moving on, he played another Bluetones song, The Fountainhead, a nice little song from their debut album, which was released an amazing 14 years ago. Next came I’m Sick, a song from Mark’s solo album, Memory Muscle. I love the warmth and tone of Mark’s voice, which is especially obvious in his solo material, which is more laid back and folky. Another song from the Bluetones latest album, Carry Me Home, which was an apt song for a freshers week gig in Scotland, which Mark commented that Scotland was the best place to be hungover, although in England it’s called a hangover, in Scotland, we just call it being awake! Cheeky comment, followed by the first “cheeky cover”, Sam Sparrow’s Black and Gold. Personally, I think Mark’s version is much better than the original, although for those who haven’t heard this version before, it takes a few minutes to recognise.
The venues warming up, and Mark comments on his choice of outfit for tonight, a shirt, tie, jumper combo. Someone in the crowd heckles for him to “get it off” but Mark’s not keen, not at the request of a deep male voice anyway! Back to the solo material for So It Goes, a less up-tempo song and a surprising choice for a live performance. The Bluetone’s Marblehead Johnson got the crowd going, so much so a lively fan at the front spilt his pint all over the floor. Another quip from witty Mark when the guy returns with a fresh pint, not only a talented musician, but quite the stand up comic also. A second cheeky cover in Neil Young’s Old Man, quite apt for Mark will be celebrating his 40th birthday next year and is currently sporting a rather fetching “old man” beard.
The crowd have been requesting it all night, and finally Mark plays Slight Return, the Bluetone’s very first single and definitely crowd pleaser and anthem. Mixing it up, he played another song from the Bluetones newest album, The Day That Never Was. I love the way he does that, mixing up old and new, ups and downs, highs and lows, upbeat and down tempo songs, you never know what you will be getting next. My personal highlight of the night was Mark’s version of Teenage Fanclub’s Alcoholiday. Such a simple sounding song, and Mark’s voice really works with this song. This song always leaves me with a mischievous little smile on my face.
I think the thing I love about a Mark Morriss gig is the intimacy. You can practically see the colour of his eyes, and can feel the connection in every word he sings. I imagine he would play anything you asked for, having played a few bars of both an Oasis and Beatles song at the request of the crowd, and can be quite humorous at times. If the music ever dries up, comedy would definitely be a back up career. After 14 years in the music industry, I think Mark truly appreciates his fans, and always has time for a chat and photo opportunity after performing. What a decent chap! JoJo
All pics by Still Burning.