Acapela, Pentyrch, Cardiff, Fri 14 June
The intimate setting of the Acapela club brings artistes and audience together, and an evening with Tom Robinson is like spending time with an old friend. Robinson is an all-round nice bloke and as down to earth as his lyrics suggest. He’s funny, too, and joked about incidents in his career and his own confused sexuality, often stopping mid-song to tell a story.
Lee Forsyth Griffiths, a self-proclaimed yob with a melodic voice, opened with a few tunes of his own and accompanied Robinson for the second half of the show. There were songs about unrequited love and male suicide – with a heartfelt plea to spread the word that help is available – and songs about the state of the nation. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom: the tongue-in-cheek Grey Cortina was there, as was Martin, played on the keyboard, and the song that nearly ruined his career but became an anthem, Glad To Be Gay, and the audience sang along with vigour.
New material from his upcoming album Only The Now slipped in seamlessly, including an English version of Jacques Brel’s Les Bourgeois (which apparently translates as Yuppie Scum). Robinson is really a balladeer, a folk singer with a gritty voice that sounds the same today as when he topped the charts in the 1970s. After all these years, he’s still protesting, albeit in a less frenetic way, and his lyrics have needed only minor adjustment to keep them up-to-date because so little has changed.
It’s refreshing to find a serious musician that still has core values and doesn’t take himself too seriously – but how could you with a hit like 2‐4‐6‐8 Motorway in your back catalogue? Robinson played to a packed venue and even stuck around for photos after the gig. The evening started with him spilling a pint on stage and nearly losing the mic and ended with the ‘surprise’ encore that everyone had been expecting – and then we were off down the motorway again.
words LYNDA NASH