Live Review from Underground 39:
The set list for U39 was interesting from the start. A solo acoustic set, a two-piece, a three piece, and two five pieces, thus building up to a thundering crescendo. Or something.
Anyway, first up, Gregory was a hard act to categorise. His blurb in the flier was a stream of consciousness, and it appears that’s how he approaches singing as well. Eschewing the traditional write-it-then-sing-it methodology, he prefers to improvise words over a loose framework of chords. His first song in this vein was a medley of three songs including Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence, and a couple of others which I didn’t recognise. Perhaps this was because instead of improvising three songs, Gregory actually improvised another one in there on the spur of the moment, making a total of four. A mystery caller joined in with the improvisational spirit by calling his mobile in the break between the first and second songs.
The next few offerings can best be described as song-poems. Words and concepts were repeated over a fluid bed of guitar riffs. Gregory’s voice is strong and emotive, and reminded me of Tracy Chapman or Janis Joplin, which I mean as a compliment rather than an insult to his masculinity. In between each song, Gregory treated us to more random thoughts and his personal philosophy of life, although these tended to meander off without focus and were probably better embedded into songs. During the course of the set, he also treated us to an acoustic beatbox improv – while still singing! — and decided to perform a song which he’d written “half an hour ago”. The final piece was an improvisation about a subject randomly chosen by the audience, which in this case was “Genetic Engineering”. Towards the last 216 bars of this, the MC ChrisB was clearly hovering to let Gregory know that his time was up.