Ebony Lamb

Ebony Lamb & Andy Anderson

Sitting Room Session / 
Mangakuri Chapel / 
Sunday 5 Jan 2020 / 
By Rob Harbers

Jamie Macphail’s Sitting Room Sessions have deservedly earned a reputation as being events at which the audience is treated to an up-close-and-personal view of a diverse range of artists. This show continued that tradition.

To kick off the new year, this session was held in the sylvan setting of the Mangakuri chapel, about an hour south of Hastings, or a little more than that for this reviewer who failed to fully read the directions and went on a detour to Mangakuri Beach! Lovely beach views, but…

This diversion meant I unfortunately missed most of opener Andy Anderson’s set, but what I did see of it was enough to make me regret what I’d missed. While the setting sun outside was tinged pink due to the tragic fires across the Tasman, Andy delivered a heartfelt collection of original songs, interspersed with anecdotes from his long life. Among these was a recounting of his brief intention to travel to Australia to assist in helping with firefighting efforts, before being brought back to reality by his long-suffering wife. And as for his tale of how an acid-tinged encounter with an early incarnation of Split Enz had him believing them to be the harbingers of his untimely demise, well…you had to be there!

After a brief intermission, we were treated to the main act, Ebony Lamb. Having facilitated the “assisted suicide” of her former ensemble Eb and Sparrow, Ebony is now striking out under her own steam. Based on this performance, I predict this as being a journey filled with many high points, and it’s one I’ll be following with great interest.

The set provided an opportunity for some new material to be road-tested, one of the highlights being “I Still Want to Drive You Around”. As recounted, road-testing allows for songs to be fine-tuned, including refinement of lyrics, and avoiding the pitfalls of “custard-coloured skies” (again, you had to be there!)

With her partner Gram Antler augmenting her acoustic guitar with nuanced notes from his Strat, the set also touched on a previously unremarked condition of something rotten in the town of Kimbolton, as well as ranging far and wide across both Eb and Sparrow material and solo songs. The show-stopper, though, in more than one sense of the word, was the finale, where the acoustic guitar was ditched to allow for a stunning version of the Etta James classic “I’d Rather Go Blind”. This allowed Ebony to display all her vocal chops, and by itself showed that here is someone to be looking out for. Amazing stuff!

After recovering from this emotional high point, the audience was then left with the long drive (in some instances) to home, with the night’s show ringing through their minds, and looking forward to another year of Sitting Room Sessions, the bar having been set high right from the get-go.

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