Paisley Arts Centre Jazz Gig Review
When I first walked into the Paisley Arts centre the first thing that struck me was the emptiness of the stage. All that greeted me was an upright piano, bathed in red and blue light, with a chair that wouldn’t look out of place outside a small France boulangerie, yet on a stage in Paisley looked slightly alien.
“It’s a stripped back performance, just me and Brian on stage” Tommy Smith shared, setting the scene. But there wasn’t a microphone, how are they going to do this and be heard? I thought to myself. And with the house almost full, Tommy Smith and Brian Kellock walked out onto the stage to an almost thunderous applause.
Greeting the crowd enthusiastically Tommy introduced us to Brian and then launched enthusiastically into their first song, their take on Michel Legrand’s You Must Believe In Spring. And suddenly everything made sense.
The lack of microphones, the stripped back stage, listening to those two men perform together, completely in tandem and yet free to explore their own melodies inside the song and support each other was a revelation. I closed my eyes and I was almost outside that small bakery, the wind blowing through my hair with a glass of wine in my hand and my beautiful lady sitting opposite me.
And the show continued like that. Every piece they played, whether it was an original composition, a yet to be released song from the duo’s new album or even covering a Nat King Cole classic, was effortless. Each player acknowledged the other while still maintaining their individuality, and at no point did either drown the other out. In between songs they spoke candidly to the audience about Paisley which Tommy’s played in before, or the difficulties of sticking to a pre-decided playlist.
By the end it was obvious the audience didn’t want them to leave, but after two encores including a very special moment when the duo played a song requested by an audience member, both Tommy and Brian left the stage.
The great thing about these two is that you don’t need to have a knowledgeable ear to appreciate the music they’re playing. You still recognise the song and then appreciate their stripped down variation on it.