I have lived all but two of my 43 years on this planet about four miles from where this gig takes place tonight – 33 of them in the same house.

And, the fact that home is in a town on the outskirts of Birmingham right in the middle of the country, has always left me feeling that I am connected to everywhere.

These thoughts struck me tonight when Stephen Fearing was talking about first moving from Canada to Ireland as a boy, then moving with his wife and daughter across the entire country of Canada a year or two ago.

That sense of vastness, of distance, is something that informs Fearing’s work. His brilliant record “Every Soul’s A Sailor” seemed to deal with that throughout, and hearing him play these songs here, just him and his guitar – the way they were written – really brings it home.

The first couple of songs in this two-set show literally deal with moving. “As The Crow Flies” and the even better, “The Big East West” are hewn in the rock of his homeland.

But what he is also brilliant at is observing the human condition. “The Things We Did” (my personal favourite song of his) is ostensibly about the death of the obituary writer in the local paper but is actually about way more. The death of those papers themselves, the inexorable onset of technology (“one click of a mouse and the whole world changed” he sings here) and the way the world is changing daily.

Then there’s “Blowhard Nation” – his song about the then Presidential Candidate, Donald Trump. Listening to these words in the context of what has happened since is instructive. “My sinister neighbours are rattling their sabres and the circus is coming to town….” was just a clever line then. Now it’s the nightly news.

“Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is” is in many ways a manifesto for a better day, while “Long Walk to Freedom” a song he wrote for Nelson Mandela, shows that – as Southside Johnny once said – better days are coming (with all fingers crossed….)

The first half ends with the upbeat “Golden Days” as if he is reminding himself that it isn’t always bleak out there too.

Fearing is also in Blackie And The Rodeo Kings (“the most dysfunctional band in the world” he laughs here) and sings a couple of their tunes too. “Everything I Am” and “Black Sheep” – but not actually before he’s happily began part two with a request for “Black Silk Gown”, which if nothing else proves the laid-back nature of tonight.

That he’s a wonderful songwriter is surely a given, but it perhaps wasn’t until I was sat watching him fingerpick a quite wonderful “James Medley” tonight that I understood how gifted a musician he was (and I’d seen him before) and that continues with the bluesy affair “Love Like Water.”

He ends as he began, with distance. With evocative imagery and a song that comes from Canada but applies to us all. The title track of “….Sailor” actually mentions “infinity” in its lyrics and it has a feel of something deep and glorious. It gives the show a beguiling end – the scheduled encore on the setlist at his feet is not played.

Stephen Fearing is a rare talent. One of the great singer songwriters, and he belongs on – and to – the open road. It was our pleasure that he stopped off here for a while.

More From Author


Popular Posts

Latest Gig Reviews

Latest Music Reviews


Band Of The Day