Stephen Fretwell / Liam Frost & Hush - Liverpool Academy 2 - 14.09.05

You would have excused the Mancunian songster; Liam Frost if he made a Bet Lynch styled attempt to hide his roots given last seasons football honours. However, such is his pride and enthusiasm that he even imbued the confidence of a small section of the crowd to yelp out when the question as to whether there were any mancunians in the room was raised. A gripping and roving acoustic set was produced as Frost’s vocals initially resembled those of Noel Gallagher. The rousing nautical number ‘Paper Blows’ welded together elements of Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley that captured the attention of an eager crowd. ‘Woke Up From The Strangest Trip’ was a poignant Dylan for beginners lesson that was attentively listened to and gave the opening act some bite.

The male contingent gathered tonight suddenly stopped mid conversation, as the flowing luxurious blond locks of the German Dorthe Gerlach, glistened in the lights like spun gold before them. This sparked the arrival of the wistful duet Hush, whose mixture country and pop brought spirit and defiance to the fore. The almost anti-love song; ‘If You Go Breakin My Heart’ that kicks off forthcoming album ‘A Lifetime’ blended together Patty Griffin, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Imogen Heap to cutting effect, as timewasters and Lotharios were  pertinently and proudly lacerated by the tongue of Gerlach. The thrusting countrified guitars and unrefined backing vocals of Michael Hartmann added authenticity and composure to standout track; ‘Lifetime’ that helped Hush make their presence felt. They produced a strong and intriguing set that had a trickle of Imogen Heap and Fleetwood Mac running through it.

The glowing Scunthorpe born and Manchester based Stephen Fretwell greeted a crowd thrilled by his presence, with an acoustically meandering and lamenting new number ‘Darling Don’t’ before his band and numbers from his debut ‘Magpie’ album stole in. The booming sound of the full band didn’t take long to get into full flow in ‘Brother’, before the main man musically balanced a pea in the in the middle of musical see saw with Tom Waites at one end and Bob Dylan at the other in the mournful ‘Bad Bad You, Bad Bad Me’. Frivolous banter was passed back and forth between him and the crowd to give the evening a fun and friendly feel.

A drinking person’s Keane is one way of summarizing the performance tonight, with the latter band being firmly entrenched in the ever growing fan base of this cutting and alluring singer/songwriter. A spine tingling moment descended upon us during a breath taking rendition of the first single to be released ‘Run’. Fretwell was in full flow, but then provocatively stopped playing to invite keen gatherers to bellow back at him the line;

 “ Tell me tomorrow; I’ll wait by the window for you.”

This invitation was tunefully accepted with the pleasure and exuberance of Freddie Flintoff smashing a slower ball from Glen McGrath passed the boundary. A solo acoustic encore of the much loved cynically swiping ‘Emilie’ and the bracing ‘New York’, ensured that Fretwell’s mastery will be in the mind of the majority of the attendees tonight for some time.

David Adair

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