Review: The Coal Porters, The Square Tower, Portsmouth

Lily Garland

Lily Garland’s moving her career to The Next Chapter

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It’s been 30 years since Sid Griffin played Portsmouth Poly with the Long Ryders on the first wave of what became known as Americana that swept these shores back in the ’80s.

Now fronting The Coal Porters, a self-described alt-Bluegrass band, Sid’s hair may be a little greyer, just like the band’s sharp suits, but there’s still a self-deprecating grin from a man happy to share the limelight with fellow band members.

Vocal duties are shared mainly with Scotsman Neil Robert Herd, who warns us they have come to entertain, and so they did.

Original material from new album Find The One was mixed with radical reworkings of David Bowie’s Heroes and The Stones’ Paint It Black amongst others, but the covers didn’t dominate the set.

Star of the show for me was fiddle player Carly Frey, her sweet vocals a perfect foil for Messrs Griffin and Herd.

Sid was quite keen the extol the virtues of his acoustic band which, incidentally, also included Tali Trow on double bass and the excellent John Breeze on banjo, and for the finale of the show the band unplugged and gave us a rousing version of the Small Faces’ Ooh La La, with Sid walking amongst the audience to great acclaim.

A perfect end to a lovely evening, and the Square Tower is a great new music venue for Portsmouth.