An evening in an iconic London venue in the company of Ashley Campbell (no stranger to UK country fans, of course) and Thor Jensen, bringing the fruits of their recent collaboration to UK audiences for the first time? We couldn’t have kept Paul Sammon away even if we’d wanted to…
While the rest of the World seemed to be tuned in to watch the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, I took myself down to London on June 2nd for a whole other reason.
Ashley Campbell had been over in Europe for a few weeks already and performed as either part of the tour promoted by Vacancy Records (the Glasgow based Country / Americana label), opening for Jimmie Webb (legenedary singer / songwriter that penned many of her father Glen’s most loved songs) or, as was tonight, showcasing her new duo project with Thor Jensen.
After traipsing from Piccadilly Circus to Camden to discover a music shop didn’t have what I wanted after all, I decided to Tube it back to Earl’s Court so I could feed and make ready for my trip to the Troubadour. I was blissfully unaware how small and cosy this world-famous music venue is. Graced by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Simon & Garfunkel and even Adele & Ed Sheeran, the tiny room that could probably house no more than 50 guests is situated under a café restaurant on Old Brompton Road.
Being the front row junkie that I am, I sat on the bench closest to the set up. Although I did resist putting my feet up on the foldback monitors to get more comfortable. Hey, I was brought up, not dragged up.
On the first leg of the tour in Ireland, Thor and Ashley discovered the musical talents of one Wexford born Rachel Grace. Now 22, she penned her first EP when she was only 15. She perched behind her keys and opened the show with some of these songs. To say I was blown away by her tone and vocal control would be an understatement. A proper little gem belting out You Don’t Know and Nice Knowin’ Ya. My first thought was “Irish Adele”; she’s that good. Please do check her out.
Ashley and Thor then took to the rug. There’s not even a raised stage or they’d have bumped their heads. While they did perform some of their own songs as well as her Dad’s Gentle On My Mind and a cover of The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby, the set was made up of mostly tracks they’ve been working on together as a two-piece. Thor on lead guitar and Ashley on either guitar or banjo, they both shared the lead vocals throughout and bounced between songs with stories and humour. The night was littered with laughter and also a few tears as they sang Remembering, penned by Ashley about and for her Dad as his Alzheimer’s Disease took away his memories.
I’ve never been to a more intimate and wonderful gig. Neither had my friend who lives in London. We both agreed we will return to take in more acts should they ever appear here. I was lucky enough to catch up with Ashley and Co. afterwards and I felt it polite to thank Rachel’s Dad for driving her all the way from Ireland to be here for the two Troubadour shows. She’ll remember this for sure, just as I will too.