If anyone asked you to tell them what was the best live performance you ever heard – the one that sticks in your mind most – what would it be?
All that variety of music I have heard – the first stadium rock gig (U2) the first chorale (Bach’s Mass in B minor) the first time I heard Bruce Cockburn play the guitar and make a masterpiece out of words and virtuosity.
Yet the one I would select would be the performance of a man called Sam Hill, along with a band, playing at Calvary Christian Fellowship some time in the early 90s. Everything was lovely- I was there with my friends and my wife, most of us made music together, and were familiar with the sound rig, the acoustics, but what Sam was able to use them to achieve was sublime. Beautiful songs, delivered in a butter smooth Lancashire accent, soaring fiddle playing, and skillful guitar.
I played a support gig for Sam a year or so later- I still have a recording taken as a direct output of the sound desk. We sound scratchy, amateur, even though we had fun. Sam (who had turned up late, with half a band, guitars with pick ups that did not work) sounds gorgeous.
I lost touch with his music. We both moved away from Lancashire, me to Scotland, he to Cornwall. The next time I stumbled across anything he did was a lovely album of poetry and music that he did with Steve Stockman.
Flash forward ten years or so, and I was sitting with my mate Andy in the performance tent at Greenbelt Festival. Incidentally the last time Andy had been at Greenbelt (back in the 90s) he had been playing guitar in support of Sam. Someone had dropped out and so they had brought in a special guest- some bloke called Sam Hill.
The years had not been easy on him. The songs were dark and the voice had gathered some gravel. But every now and then, the music would break out of the cage and come alive.
I mention all this as Sam has been recording again it seems. Another old friend (Bob Fraser- another talented songwriter) posted this on FB. Get the album when it comes out, I will!
(No idea why this video will not load on the page- you will need to click on this link;)