You don't often get the chance to see a son challenge his father's reputation during a performance but that is what happened at London's Jazz Café last month (22/04/2014) as Marc Ford
kicked off his 'Holy Ghost' tour. I am sure it was with the blessing and encouragement of his 'guvnor' that Elijah Ford emerged from the metaphorical shadows despite the family duo both lurking in the meagre lighting at the venue.
It is difficult to define a Marc Ford crowd, just as it is to sketch him in a room packed with bodies eager to see their hero. There were plenty of beards, some short, long and some thick, there was even one you could only categorise as Metro Hillbilly. There was tracksuited couple in matching outfits and a group of 7 or 8 Mods that looked like The Small Faces had just stepped out of a time machine.
Elijah Ford opened in the support spot and was soon swallowed into the belly of his father's group, like Jonah in the whale. His voice rang true throughout the two hours and his vocal expression and lyrics were complex and mature. His is currently making an album with Stew Jackson who swelled the ranks alongside the other members of Phantom Limb for young Ford's final tune 'Blessing'.
Stew Jackson it seems has fingers in plenty of pies, as producer and musician but on this occasion they strayed from guitar to the more prone pedal steel. He was not the only one to change instruments and this was a constant theme throughout the evening with both Andy Lowe and Elijah Ford showing their versatility.
|Matt Brown - drums|
For the uninitiated it was hard to find the path that would reach Marc Ford's musical summit. So while I waited for my epiphany I concentrated on the man in the shadows. Ford Senior looks like he has seen some battles, with a manly check to his shirt and a face so rugged it looks like it could chop wood for the fire with a mere glance. During the early stages of his set his lyrics were too simplistic to gather me into his fold but there were strands of melancholy and narrative that piqued the mind.
"Dancing Shoes" was the turning point, it's slow drive and drawl could have ended with more frustration until I realised that it was speed that was my key, or rather the lack of it. Here were a set of tunes so easy and plumb you could chew on them like a sweet sticky pudding. The pace did pick up and there was even a soufflé bounce in the following "Blue Sky" which saw guitarist Luke Cawthra wipe the sweat of his bald pate with one big sweep of a forearm like a swipe of a monster truck's windscreen wiper.
Elijah Ford remained the most animated and interesting figure on stage, the others sported a deadpan demeanour that was Fargo-esque in its lack of emotion. "Turquoise Blue" brought out the best lyrically between the father and son combo, where their vocals rubbed against each other, sending out delicious splinters into the audience.
I admit it took an age to cast off the hustle and bustle of a life lived in London's stressful flow. It was therefore symbolic that "I'm Free" was the moment when the weight lifted and at last I knew, that this music was less homogeneous than the plethora of checked shirts on stage would make you think. "Sometimes" brought a very healthy response from the London crowd that has propelled the tour through dates in Belgium, Holland and Germany.
In the following weeks Ford is destined to conquer a large part of Spain with dates in Madrid (10th May) and Pamplona (15th May) being standouts. It is a shame that he will be too early to lock horns with the famous Pamplona bulls, because even these ferocious beasts would mellow to the sound of Marc Ford and his talented offspring.