Review | Marley Blandford, The Gaiety, Southsea : 'Songs made to last'
Marley Blandford has been a familiar figure to gig-goers on the Portsmouth scene for some years now.
He is often to be spotted out and about playing solo or alongside friends like The Hill Brothers.
But last summer he finally released his second album Ephemeral Adventures – recorded pretty much at home alone during lockdown with just his trusty MacBook.
It is, however a collection that requires the full-band treatment to do its expansive songs justice.
That band made its debut at this year’s Victorious Festival, and the four-piece backing band, plus sisters Amba Tremain and Olivia Haggarty on backing vocals, is packed with talent.
This though, was Marley’s chance to play his second album in full.
The opening couple of numbers – the title track and Rise, sound a fraction faster than their recorded counterparts, but this is no bad thing.
However after the first four songs, Marley takes a detour into some of his older material with a couple of tracks from his 2016 EP A Shooting Star Ain’t a Sign of Love.
Then it’s back into the album, with a particularly emphatic Lift Me Up, featuring a nice bit of audience participation. It is the kind of soulful pop-rock that could quite comfortably hold its own on the Radio 2 playlist.
The rest of the gig follows this pattern of new album tracks interspersed with older numbers and covers.
There’s a solo acoustic take on Guns N’Roses’ Sweet Child O’Mine which demonstrates that Marley not only has serious songwriting skill, but also the playing chops.
The only real slip of the evening comes when Marley has to abandon the ballad, She Lives Alone as he has forgotten the words.
But Marley is such a warm performer it’s all taken in good humour by the audience.
His one-man version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody is an incredible technical display and remains quite the showstopper – it’s well worth checking out the video of it from 2018.
The night finishes with his debut album title track Shine On, the kind of uplifting ode to positivity any performer of this ilk would be happy to have in their arsenal – purpose-built to send the audience into the night with a spring in their step and a smile on their face.
The name of the album may say ‘ephemeral’ but these are songs made to last with a real timeless quality to them.
If you’re a fan of well-crafted singer-songwriter pop, then make sure you check this album out – Marley is one of Portsmouth’s finest musical talents.
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