Tonight started a little oddly...however, what initially promised to be a rather strange and cold evening, ended up being a reminder of what an excellent performer Mark Shaw is. Why strange? Well the venue may be full of character and music history (Dylan played London for the first time at this very place) but with the stage in the corner at a right angle (splitting the venue in two) and with the crowd dynamic a little unusual, it really did feel that like this was going to be an odd one.
The build up to the show flew by as although it was freezing in the basement of the Troubadour we were given endless entertainment people watching. Particularly entertaining were those in the seats (dotted round the edges of the standing area) tell the folk who were standing (in you know..the standing area) to move out of their way as they were blocking their view. This went on for a good hour and was pretty hilarious it must be said. Only when Shaw came on stage and everyone flooded the floor did those in the seats realise it was actually a gig they were at. Very weird but it filled in the time and made us forget how cold it was.
Shaw started just after 9.30 and sang Rebel Rebel to a backing track...bit karaoke in truth and added to my early belief that this was going to a weird one. I shouldn't have worried though. Aided by the Ryan Williams on acoustic guitar (who was pretty fantastic it must be said) Shaw proved what a top performer he is. He may have been suffering with pneumonia tonight but he really did throw his all into this performance. Even though clearly not 100% his voice doesn't seem to have lost any of its power.
Shaw looks great (like the ageing rocker he is...that's a compliment in my book by the way) and sings a crowd pleasing 65 minute set. Sugar Box is a personal fav (love that track) but Big Area is such a classic song that hearing it twice is no bad thing. The crowd here adore Shaw (apart from the odd pissed up person dragged along by their other half) and he really does respond in kind. He is like the Duracell bunny on stage...never once standing still (that wooden stool never had a chance of being used). The set covers pretty much everything you would hope to hear with the exception of What Does It Take? (unless I am completely forgetting it being played). No matter, the set is excellent and ends with a quick encore of U2's Desire (perfectly suited to him). Shaw hugs nearly everyone in the audience and with gig over we head out into the cold February evening...although I'm pretty sure its warmer outside than in the basement.
Shaw and Williams are playing here again at the end of March to record a live album. You could do much worse than pop along to a slightly odd but fascinating venue to see a performer who genuinely appears to love what he does and is bloody good at it to.
Ticket: February 4th 2018
Ticket Price: £12.00