WRIGHT THINKING: Watching a Liddell bit of magic in Hartlepool

Paul Liddell.
Paul Liddell.

I’VE seen some remarkable musical performances in venues all over the world, and it was great to add to my collection in a spot close to home just a couple of Fridays ago.

I was at the Fisherman’s Arms on the Headland to see the first “Pindrop” in the hands of the new landlord and landlady, Paul and Lana, who wisely kept up the fine tradition started by their predecessors, Steve and Mandy.

The place was packed and the evening was kicked off splendidly by Pindrop founder Brian Barnes and his colleague, the other Brian, on accordion and guitar respectively.

What came next really roused the place with Sharon and Mark Pinchen, of local band Mercedes fame, turning out a great set containing their own material and some superb covers, including two by Leonard Cohen.

Their last number was the great man’s Hallelujah and, to their eternal credit, they made one of the world’s most-performed songs their own.

It started slowly and pensively and built up to a stunning climax which would have had Mr Cohen standing on the seats.

I was almost feeling sorry for the last act, Paul Liddell, as I thought he couldn’t top the Mercedes set – but he did.

To say that this guy is multi-talented is putting it mildly.

He was also using a technique called “looping” which was new to me and simply amazing.

More expert readers can put me right, but it’s basically a system of pre-recording your own voice and instruments so that you could be in the middle of your own virtual orchestra while you are performing live.

So there we were, sitting in a smallish pub in Hartlepool hearing a sound like a West End musical.

The song which took the musical biscuit was Paul’s take on Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, from the big hit musical Evita by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

His voice sounded other worldly as he harmonised with himself, and he brought the house down with a piece of brilliant musical wit.

If you’ve seen Evita on the big stage, you will know that this song has a huge brass instrumental solo which has echoes of a military marching band. When that popped up, we were all thinking “I bet you didn’t record that bit yourself mate.”

Reading our minds, he flipped open a box, pulled out a trumpet and played soaring lead.

He had a huge ovation at the end of his act, as he would at any theatre in the world.

I’ve said before that we should promote more our reputation as a brilliant home for live music – if you weren’t at the Fish that night, you could have been at several other excellent events going on around town at the same time.

The only tiny fly in the ointment on the night was the fact that the Pindrop name wasn’t enough of a clue to a few people who chatted at mega volume through the acts – bit daft really.

They were sorted by the excellent compere Martyn (interest declared – my elder son) with a mix of humour and dark threats!

There can be few finer ends to a busy week than a splendid pint and good company in god’s own country.

And when you add top-class music, for free mind, it doesn’t get much better.