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Soho Theatre, London, 30/7/2013
Back in January, Tim Arnold aka The Soho Hobo played an exclusive gig at The Groucho in the heart of London’s trendy Soho area. The one-off show was to promote a collection of material about this historic location that he hoped would grow into an album. Although an invite-only event – the gig was a great success and his songs were well received and very promising indeed.
This show was a follow-up show and took place a few doors down from The Groucho at The Soho Theatre. The doors were open to the public this time around – paying customers –, and it was, to my knowledge, the first time the Soho Hobo has demoed his latest songs to members of the public at a large venue.
The good news is that Arnold’s hard work has paid off and his album has come to fruition, and is due to be released towards the end of 2013 and I personally cannot wait to hear it.
Although this was an open gig that anyone could attend, Arnold’s celebrity supporters were out in force for the show once again and there were famous faces aplenty in the audience; ranging from stars of the British film and music industry and fashion designers, as well as many popular television actors. The night was by no means a “lovey-fest”, however; the venue was packed by a range of characters – which attests to Arnold’s popularity both as a poetic songwriter and a performer.
Musical support for the evening was provided by Darling Boy, a young new talent who has been acclaimed by the likes of DJ Steve Lamacq among others. A solo artist who is charming and affable on stage, Darling Boy played an acoustic set with the occasional burst on the harmonica thrown in for good measure. His songs are emotional yet uplifting, and he struck up an instant rapport with the crowd. He was also very comedic without having to try too hard, and he definitely gained many new fans on the night including me. One slight criticism would be that the name “Darling Boy” does not seem to suit his act, but, minor quibbles aside, he provided the perfect appetiser for the rest of the night’s performance.
The Soho Hobo was introduced by his regular MC Jud Charlton who roused the audience with a humorous and insightful ode to Soho, which promptly lead into the opening number, 'Manners on The Manor'. Lively and with punchy – this song is a real belter and was a great way to start the set. By the time the second song, 'The King of Soho', was underway, the crowd were dancing around in their seats and the show was clearly in full swing. It was clearly going to be a fun night out. 'Soho Heroes' dropped the pace slightly and listed many of Soho's notable inhabitants – past and present. As always, Arnold’s delivery was spot on. He is clearly a man who loves this part of London dearly. 'Ain’t Made to Measure' features a turn on the mic by Phil Daniels in full-on country house cockney swing. It was definitely a crowd pleaser and was another standout track.
'The Windmill Girls' is a poignant ode to Arnold’s mother who performed as a dancer at the legendary Windmill Club just down the road. The song is accompanied by live re-enactment of an original Windmill Girls striptease, performed by Miss Giddy Heights.
Other highlights include 'Marina', which is mellow and lyrically beautiful, as is 'Little London Lou' and 'Soho Sunset' (which was accompanied by Arnold’s girlfriend, Jessie Wallace).
The evening closed with 'Inside Out', a truly epic song that builds momentum with searing guitars and blistering saxophone. Arnold also treated the audience to his party trick – a full headstand as the song drew to an end. This was true show boater with an impressive repertoire of songs at his command, and a great backing band to match!
Tim Arnold is a tender and honest songwriter and engaged with his audience with ease. His music is a mixture of old fashioned rock and roll, enthused with elements of jazz, blues and rockabilly, while his songs are touching and meaningful but still manage to be catchy and funny. They will definitely strike a chord with you – whether or not you have experienced Soho life or not. His music rightly deserves the attention it he is receiving from his small but hardcore following of Soho devotees, but also merits a larger audience I believe. His songs paint a vivid picture – like a snapshot in time he is in effect recording history through his music and real London life.
There is much to be discovered here – see him if you can and check out his album come November.
Commenting On: Soho Theatre, London, 30/7/2013 - Soho Hobo
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Ton Fogarty at the Soho Theatre watches the Soho Hobo, which is the moniker of London musician Tim Arnold, play an evocative and moving set of material from his forthcoming debut album about life in his local neighbourhood of London
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