A Gentle Heart

“Gentle heart never hurt a soul.
You live in trust and you learn to love.
In silent darkness I hold your hand.
I don’t get much but I get the way she rolls”.

From “A Gentle Heart” by Neil Halstead.


This week we had the good fortune of making the trip across the M8 to see Neil Halstead play at the Captain’s Rest in Glasgow.  Whilst the bar upstairs was crammed full of punters watching Man United get beaten by Barca in the Champions League Final, there was a stark contrast downstairs.  I almost found myself centre stage left as I spilled through the doorway at the bottom of the stairs amidst support act Larch’s set.  The venue is so tiny.  It’s pretty rudimentary and it reminded me of a school disco as I looked around and saw folks lining the walls in the darkness desperately avoiding the space of the dance-floor.

Neil took the stage and played through a couple of tracks acoustically including the ever wonderful and heartbreaking “Martha’s Mantra (For The Pain)” before inviting Adam and Ben up to play the rest of the set.  They played a wide range of songs from “Sleeping On Roads” and “Oh! Mighty Engine” (an album I keep listening to with enormous regularity months after I ought to have grown at least a little tired of it).  He included a choice selection of Mojave 3 numbers including requests from the floor.  “In Love With A View”, “Yer Feet” and “Between The Bars” stick out in my mind.

An intimate gig it certainly was.  Do artists get discouraged when hardly anyone turns out to hear them pour out their souls and observations on life?  Just like Neil’s gig at King Tuts last September I will cherish this as a beautiful evening in the presence of an individual whose songs I have carried around as a soundtrack to parts of my life for 12 years or so. 

Ever affable, it was nice to manage to talk with him for a few moments upon leaving – just to say “thanks” and ask how the tour had been going and talk briefly of Cornwall.  Then and again, if you read this you’ll see that there is much common ground…

Thanks again, Neil – hope to see you again soon.


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