Johns is keen to point out that he is first and foremost a musician and he ably demonstrates this over the next ninety minutes. He comes from the finest pedigree of producers with his father Glynn and uncle Andy producing the likes of Free, Zeppelin and the Stones while Ethan has helmed Ryan Adams, Kings of Leon and Laura Marling to name a few.
It’s an informal affair tonight part seated, part standing and Johns is joined by drum, bass, fiddle and occasional squeezebox. You have to feel sorry for the sound man tonight. Who would want the job of getting the sound right for one of the country’s top producers. There are many subtle tweaks and fiddles to guitars amps and mics throughout tonight to strive for that musical perfection.
He is currently touring on the back of his very fine third album Silver Liner and the shows opens with that. It wouldn’t be lost on a seventies era Neil Young album in terms of its arrangement and his voice.
The set continues through the new album and cuts from his previous discs and moves from acoustic to electric throughout. When they rocked, they really rocked especially seguing into Zeps ‘Rock and Roll’ at one stage with the drummer doing his best John Bonham. The band are exceptional and musically there is nothing to fault the playing, the sound or the songs. But, there’s little soul and life and between songs, its feels stilted and awkward for both the band and us. Johns is not a natural frontman and John hit the nail on head describing him as diffident.
The crowd were polite and appreciative but it’s always harder in a seated environment to generate an atmosphere.
So a night of good songs played impeccably but work needs to be done on the performance side