Review: Dennis Ellsworth at The Square Tower, Old Portsmouth

Black Star Riders: from left, Scott Gorham, Chad Szeliga, Ricky Warwick,  Robbie Crane and Damon Johnson.  Picture by Richard Stow

Black Star Riders come under Heavy Fire on their latest tour

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Having to stop the first song because of mobile phone feedback through the monitor isn’t the most auspicious of beginnings.

But fortunately the gig is all uphill from there for this laidback Canadian singer-songwriter.

Dennis Ellsworth was at the Square Tower last June, playing a ‘house concert’ in the smaller room upstairs. This time he was back in the main room, playing to a full house on a night marking the second birthday of the promoters, Square Roots.

He has an extensive back catalogue to draw from, both solo, in collaboration and with his old band Haunted Hearts.

He describes Perfect Storm, a song created with John Smith, as ‘the best he’s ever written.’ It certainly proved to be a high point here.

The Prince Edward Island native has a deep supply of soul-searching lyrics and sweet melodies.

The influence of Bob Dylan is writ large – with Ellsworth admitting as much.

There was a moment that could have lurched into folk song parody – devoting a trilogy of songs to your dead cat? But Ellsworth’s sincerity kept it on the right side of things.

For the end of his set, he brought support act Marion Fleetwood and her violin back for a spine-tingling rendition of his If I Find The Truth.

And we got birthday cake between sets. What more could you ask for?