Stephen Fretwell: Barfly, Liverpool

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An old friend returns to Liverpool, Getintothis‘ Karl Grubb and an expectant crowd welcome him back.


Stephen Fretwell really didn’t have to win anyone over tonight – he was among friends. After two fairly weak performances by the support acts (Lazybones and Simone White – who incidentally is the only singer I’ve known to get the word tuberculosis into a song), he came onto the stage looking a little nervous.
Dressed immaculately in a suit and twitching just a tiny bit, he started off with ‘What’s That You Say Little Girl’ from the Magpie album delivered note perfect and warmly received from a crowd who were urging him to do well.
Ground Beneath Your Feet from his new album was beautifully delivered solo with an immaculate guitar line. Fretwell joked with the crowd after playing ‘Run‘ from his first album and telling the audience that he was glad he was playing up north as southern audiences don’t sing along.
Emily‘ was a massive crowd pleaser – It was all over the radio on release and recognised immediately by an all-singing crowd. Two guys from Elbow also got up and played this with him. And he started to relax into the gig.
The Gibson 335 came out for ‘San Fransisco Blues‘ and Fretwell started coming into his own with a little bit of banter with the crowd.
With his guitar at chest height, he broke into another track from his new album (I could probably tell you which one if I hadn’t ordered my copy from amazon in the midst of our postal strike). It was warmly received though with a great backing on drums and bass.
Two encore tracks – New York which has the best use of the f-word for some time and Lost Without You were warmly received – the audience singing along but never louder than Fretwell himself – like they didn’t want to take the beauty of the songs away. Unusual restraint from a Liverpool crowd.
It was sadly a shorter performance than most people were expecting but beautifully executed by a charming and engaging performer. Bob Dylan and James Taylor were two of the comparisons discussed after the gig.
It’s refreshing to hear a true rendition of songs in a proper Scunthorpe accent!
I would recommend the Magpie album to anyone – and if our posties ever get back to work, I’ll let you know about Man on the Roof – from what I heard tonight though (brief albeit), it’s one for the collection.

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