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Review: Ian Prowse & Amsterdam at Telford's Warehouse

Grahame Rhodes witnesses 'a brilliant night of music'

Ian Prowse & Amsterdam performing at Telford's Warehouse(Image: Grahame Rhodes)

Over the last few years I have probably enjoyed Ian Prowse's music as much as anyone and caught some superb live shows.

The Ellesmere Port-raised, Liverpool-based singer-songwriter – who first came to the spotlight with the crafted pop of Pele in the early 1990s - returned to a favourite gig at Telford's Warehouse with Amsterdam to deliver 90-minutes of pure “rock 'n' roll, with a Celtic soul”, as the seven musicians played their hearts out for a packed and receptive audience of fans.

Still out touring the latest album – the fabulous “Companeros” - the set included several old Pele numbers, some of the Ian Prowse & Amsterdam back catalogue and of course, a good sprinkling of songs from the current offering.

As well as Ian Prowse himself, on vocals and guitar, the band were: Johnny Barlow (guitar), Dave Mastrocola (bass), Kevin Spurgeon (keyboards), Fiona McConnell (flute and whistle), Laura McKinley (violin) and Dei Elfryn (drums) – and what a glorious noise they make together!

The band started with the usual intro before launching into an exuberant “Taking On The World”, which was followed by a dip into Ian's first solo album, “Who Loves Ya Baby”, for the funky as it comes “I Did It For Love” - a great song amongst many! The first foray into “Companeros” came in the form of the perfect pop classic, Phil Jones's “Johnny & Marie” - a story of working class Liverpool folk; followed by the beautiful “You Can't Win Them All Mum” . . . another gem of a song covered on the “Companeros” album.

Ian Prowse outside the Cavern Club in Liverpool(Image: Gareth Jones)

The favourites kept coming with the Celtic pop of the vintage Pele tune “Fireworks”, with lovely violin from Laura McKinley; and the title cut of “Arm In Arm”. This was pretty breathless stuff, with an absolutely epic version of “Name & Number” another stand out – again with nice contributions from the ladies – Laura McKinley and Fiona McConnell – the latter then duetting on the stunning “Mississippi Beat”, and showing she is also a very fine singer.

A couple of very poignant songs were delivered in the set; firstly Alun Parry's superb, “My Name Is Dessie Warren” - a son of Chester, and an active trade unionist, who was imprisoned with Ricky Tomlinson in the 70s. Dessie refused to 'toe the line' whilst in prison and after some harsh treatment he became ill with Parkinson's Disease, eventually passing away . . . as Ian says in the “Companeros” booklet . . . “three chords and the truth”.

Ian's true masterpiece, the brilliant “Does This Train Stop On Merseyside?” was of course as haunting as ever, particularly in the week that the Hillsborough inquest jury were sent out to consider verdicts – the full band version is a true raging tour-de-force.

Tribute was paid to the legendary David Bowie with “Rebel Rebel” giving particularly Johnny Barlow a chance to 'rock out' with his great guitar playing; and this most enjoyable evening ended with a bit of a treat – a first live outing for a song by one of Ian Prowse's heroes and friends, the Dublin singer and writer Damien Dempsey's “St Patrick's Brave Brigade” - again from “Companeros” - a curious tale of Irish soldiers fighting in Mexico!

A brilliant night of 'music from the heart' from a writer and musician on the top of his form, with a great band of musicians to help deliver the songs.

Here's 'til the next time!

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