MV fave Matty James Cassidy might have just released an album with tonight’s headliner, but tonight is all about his “Old Soul” rather than his “Bad Mongrel,” if you will.

Manchester-based, Cassidy has Northern Irish roots, and that troubadour streak Northern Irish people seem to possess, is prevalent throughout tonight.

His “Old Souls” record – a wonderful affair – is mined for the title track and is extensively used for “Leave Your Heart At Home” and the brilliant ‘After All.”

Considering how steeped in rock ‘n’ roll Cassidy is – he looks like one of those blokes who was born with a battered old guitar case for a cot – it’s a testament to his talent that he can cover Tom Waits with such panache; his version of “Blind Love” adds something new, while his own “Sticks And Stones” and the singalong “Same Old You” underline the skill he possesses.

Before he plays “Satellite Kid” here, the assembled throng in the upstairs room at The Giffard Arms breaks into a spontaneous chorus of “We love you Tyla, we do.” Granted, they’re all half pissed on Jagermeister that Tyla has bought for them (MV is too professional and too teetotal to partake), and there aren’t thousands here, but it proves a point. If you love Tyla J Pallas, then you’re all in.

Rewind to 1989, and I’m on holiday with the family. I’d have been nearly 14, and I’d found a record shop in the North Of Scotland. In there, I discovered a copy of a record I’d read about in Kerrang. “Graveyard Of Empty Bottles” wasn’t just my entry point into the world of the Dogs D’Amour, but it likely kickstarted my love for folk music.

It’s especially relevant tonight too, given that Tyla (who hails from the city) is playing with just his acoustic and, perhaps more importantly, he’s playing the raconteur.

Billed as “Cocktails And Dog Tales,” he’s working without a script and a setlist and sharing the stories behind the songs.

“Heroine” (“I’d never heard of The Boys, so no one else had either, so I nicked it,” he says of the cover) starts it off, but it’s not really about the songs.

Instead, it’s a celebration of a time gone by, a shared experience among those of us who were there then and are here now.

That debut album, “In The Dynamite Jet Saloon,” should have made them megastars, and much of the set is drawn from it. Indeed, it was only by revisiting the songs this week that I realized how many were acoustic-based. “The State That I’m In” was, for sure, and the ones that aren’t, like “I Don’t Want You To Go,” and the ones that are half and half, like “How Come It Never Rains,” sound brilliant.

As does Pallas himself. His voice sounds superb, and I’ll declare a vested interest here: “Billy Two Rivers” is in my top 10 songs of all time, so anytime it’s played, it’s a highlight.

Everyone has their favorites, I guess, and “Angel” and “Saviour” (which he plays part of) will be for others.

There’s a request for “Trail Of Tears,” so he plays it, and “Errol Flynn” (which follows “…Kid”) ends things.

The show is cut to 90 minutes (“The discotheque is starting at 10.30, I love a discotheque,” he offers with a sneer), and it’s a shame that there wasn’t time for a couple of numbers with Cassidy. You could quibble when a song you love isn’t played (for me, that’s “I Think It’s Love Again”), but it wasn’t a night for that; this is Tyla amongst friends, holding court, telling stories, and singing songs like the travelling minstrels of yore.

He might be a wanderer, but his heart is always in Wolverhampton, and for 40 years, Tyla has been doing it his way.

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