In support of his current album ‘Hold Time’, M Ward proceeded to suspend time in Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms on the last Sunday of June. The Portland, Oregon based troubadour left most with an odd sense of nostalgia for a time before their time.

As a prelude to the main act, a playlist of 1960s girl groups, classic rock ‘n’ roll and a few bluesy numbers – seemingly lifted from Ward’s own collection – flowed faintly from the speakers overhead. And for those who didn’t get the foreshadowing note of what the evening would hold, Buddy Holly’s ‘Rave On’ helped bring it home; rock and roll revival at its best, without irony or pastiche.

That is rock and roll with a light acoustic refrain as he paused for a trio of solo songs plus one more bringing back the band. Beneath a well-worn baseball cap his raspy vocals wrapped around David Bowie’s lyrics in ‘Let’s Dance’ to reveal an aching heart behind the 80s original. Under the serious spotlight, nothing could be better.

And now I ask you, how many times have you hopelessly shouted out your favourite song in a gig, crossing your fingers and toes that it will be played? And was it played? Well, the lucky folks in Rescue Rooms saw/heard three of their songs played by the ever-willing Ward. Two of those, ‘Paul’s Song’ and ‘O’Brien’, were in the stripped down setting of his solo spot, undoubtedly etching themselves into the audience’s memories as Ward strummed his guitar. To finish the solo, the sea-breeze stylings of ‘Lullaby + Exile’ was injected with Mike Coykendall’s sharp and crisp whistle, who roused a wave of applause as he sauntered back on to stage.

From then on, Ward lifted his finger from the pause button to resume expressing his love for the good times gone by.

The rockabilly frenzy that is ‘To Save Me’ gave an audience of mid-twenty year olds flashbacks of times spent dropping nickels in a jukebox in 1960s America. And while the kids were jiving to the record, Ward hunched over a piano with his vocals emerging from the shadows of stage right.

Adding to the mix the candy stripe sweet ‘Never Had Nobody Like You’ (double negatives aside), and although it didn’t quite reach the post-rock drums 'Hold Time', suggests, his vocals never faltered and who really cared?

And as if we weren’t spoilt enough already, ard’s dexterity on the guitar added more highlights to the evening. Mesmerizingly, his fingers moved like caressing waves on the adage ‘Chinese Translation’, then sank ships in the shredding outro of ‘Right In The Head’.

Oddly though, on an evening based heavily on audience interaction as he quipped about his Glastonbury experience the previous night, Ward seemed rather detached from most of the proceedings. Yeah, he spoke, sang and played just like he was in the room but his eyes and wry smile told of a different story. That curious grin stayed firmly on his face whilst his shadowed gaze floated just above the audience as he sang. Not to mention the slight scolding some photographers got when they got rather overzealous and trigger happy. Nonetheless, the part I chose to take away from that night is his response to the final song request, “Your wish is our command”.

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Commenting On: Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, 28/6/2009 - M Ward

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