The Cavalier Club Barbers Shop Harpur St. Bedford. Wednesday 9th March 2016.

Wet Wet Wet is not just the name of a pop band from the 1980’s, its a description of the sort of day we have been experiencing in Bedford today. Thankfully we have a Curfew Club gig to get excited about. We are back in the Cavalier Club Barber Shop and our headliner has travelled many miles to entertain us tonight. Honest, verbally potent and directly straight to the point, PAUL MCCLURE wastes very little time in dishing out a measured spoken tirade against the small group of people gathered at the back. In no uncertain terms, he asks the ‘prattlers’ to be silent. Paul has begun his show with two quiet ones but is more than a little miffed to be met and be greeted with a constant stream of mindless chatter. Paul walks to the mic with a confident air, his long hair is covered by a natty trilby, a dark suave jacket contrasts with his ripped jeans and dirty brown cowboy boots. “Hello Bedford town, this is the coolest fucking place i’ve played in,” before adding “I’ve never seen so many well dressed people in one place.” His jokey demeanour between the songs ends when he performs them. ‘Yesterday’s Lies’ is a case in point, as he sings with suitable feeling “Oh I wish I was beautiful like you, oh I wish I had it all.” Paul describes his wife in detail and says some songs are about her, while some are not. ‘Unremarkable Me’ definitely is. The emotive lyrics swarm the room. Children deprive him of sleep, tea and cakes in the afternoon, but you can keep your alcohol and medicine. This is the worried woe of a middle-aged man.

Paul McClure has a brand new album ‘Songs For Anyone’ to showcase, although it is from his 2014 album ‘Smiles From The Floor Up’ which for me produces his best moment. ‘Song 6’ is inspired by a Louis Theroux documentary about the lives of American prison lifers. They are taught by adversity indeed “some people need chaos”. Mr McClure speaks fondly and informatively about his county of Rutland. It’s the smallest in the country and he appears proudly independent of its stature and his home life in Oakham, just near the train station It’s not for nothing that he is known as ‘The Rutland Troubadour’, however do not call him a “ranger”. Sadly for this reviewer, he fails to mention anything about Rutland Weekend Television, a very funny 70’s BBC comedy show which starred Michael Palin. For this former rock school teacher, everybody present is fair game for a humorous verbal spat and even I felt the teasing tongue of Mr McClure. Keen to show off his varied instrumental skills, he plays ‘Hero When I’m Done’ on a banjo. This is a composition about “going out with a musician” and includes a macabre quote from the gunslinger Billy The Kid. The fun element arrives with ‘Ray Of Sunshine’, where everyone has to sing out “shoobidooee”. Because of the loudness of our voices a worm dance is performed by one of the barbers, even Paul looks amazed by that lissom activity. An encore of ‘Every Day Is Mine To Spend’ id the final offering by a man, who although not a Facebook fan, is well liked by all tonight.

The evening is kick-started by ADAM JAMES URWIN who is better known as ‘Adam from The Scruff’. The front man from this popular local skindie band is on lively form. Rather absent-mindedly he thought this show was booked for next week! It’s the reason he is performing sober, although his wife does allow him a half bottle of Bud. Adam concedes that tonight “could go either way as it’s easier when you’re slightly pissed.” His set is a stripped down acoustic journey through The Scruff’s songbook. My highlight is his version of ‘Policeman’, “these are things your parents warned you about”, although he obviously misses his bandmates doing “the complicated bits.” It is an enjoyable set by the tall, slender fella who always appears to be happy and smiling constantly. As usual he finishes with ‘Let You Down (I Won’t).’

Following Adam was LUKE TUCHSCHERER, a consummately cool singer songwriter who constantly writes such honest and openly personal songs that are from a rootsy americana base. Luke begins with a couple of new compositions that will feature on the forthcoming album. He speaks very infrequently and appears annoyed with the noisy chatter emanating from the back of the room, which unfortunately ruined some of the quieter slices of the set. With a rugged persona, courtesy of the beard and heavily tattooed arms, Luke asks for a crowd requested cover. He firstly settled for Pearl Jam, but does keep an onlooking Paul McClure happy by focusing on Steve Earle. His work with The Whybirds is thankfully not forgotten, as he firstly strums the ballad ‘Foolish Heart’ before finishing off in grand style with a rousing ‘Before I Go Crazy’. A combined crowd sing-back makes for a loud finale.

Review by Martin Stapleton.