Last night, Ian Shaw treated a small but select audience at Canada Water Library's Culture Space to a brilliant evening of jazz, jokes and chat. His "A bit of a mouthful" one man show included songs written (by Ian) for the show he took to the Edinburgh fringe earlier this year - songs about the often hilarious, sometimes sad business of every day life - the horrors of approaching 50, the completely unintelligible language of texting and Facebook and the privilege that comes with maturity, such as being able to have a "hate list". Ian's list included Piers Morgan, Claire Sweeney and corn on the cob!
There was more amusement with references to his upbringing in North Wales. His parents had sent him and his sister to Sunday school despite not being particularly religious. When in later years Ian asked them why they had done this, the reply was "well, we couldn't afford crayons" !!! Being a lover of words, I was very amused by another Sunday school story where the vicar, in that strange North Wales (Ian described it as South Liverpool) accent would remind the children every week to "remember the prairie tortoise". Mr. Shaw and his sister puzzled for years over what kind of animal this was until eventually working out that this was a reference to the Lord's prayer - "the prayer he taught us".
Ian swears a lot. That works for me as does the inadvertently rude humour he makes such great use of - the reference in one of the songs to the aunty going into shock when reading a menu typo that instead of advising about the offer of 10% discount, actually said there was an offer of 10% disco cu-t! And I won't spoil the bed wetting and Johnson's baby powder story in case you get a chance to see the show...
And what about the music? The music was great. A stunning version of the old Gilbert O'Sullivan song, "Alone again naturally" had me hanging on to my chest - see the video above to get the feeling, whilst "Scars" from his latest (and in my opinion, best yet) album - "A ghost in every bar", a wonderful collection of 15 Fran Landesman songs demonstrated a very reflective Mr. Shaw. His mischievous side came out again with his take on Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi", including the silent guitar solo (!) and the affectionate imitation of dear Joni's high voice, deep voice ending to the song.
This was a great evening of music, humour and fascinating anecdote including some about Fran Landesman herself, George Melly and others. The venue is part of the new major library in Canada Water which not only has a great performance programme but also stocks over 50,000 books, CDs and DVDs, has a great cafe, lots of study space and rooms for hire. And its open seven days a week too!
Ian is a very busy performer and has forthcoming gigs at the Vortex in Dalston and also as part of the forthcoming London Jazz Festival. You can find the details of these and other shows on his website. See him if you can - and buy that new album if you can't (or even if you can!).