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Cambridge Folk Festival - Stony Stratford 07/99 - Preston 1999 - Troubador London 2002 - Leeds 2002 -
Bardwell 2003 - Tron Theatre 2003 - South Petherton 2003 - St Austell 2003 -Otttley 2004
sSussex 2005 - 12 Bar Preston 2005 Half Moon 2007 New York 2008 London 2012 Rothbury 2012 - Purcell Room, London 2013

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Newcastle '94"The songs would have been more than enough on their own, but I think I'm on safe ground when I rave about his playing. The bluff Yorkshire folk/blues singer transformed into an intense, gifted guitar player. So intense you could lose yourself in his playing. Pieces like Wellington Skellington about his dog no less, and the beautiful La Madrugada - a slice of sensual classical guitar, revealed a playing talent that can only be described as 'awesome'."

Berwick Advertiser Nov 2000

"I don't normally go for masterclass stuff but this has been a classic guitar concert with equally good music and vocal content presented in a warm, personal, unique style by a man who is still expanding his already vast musical experience. No boring old has-been going through the same old motions, the excellent Mr C is very alive and kicking. Long may he continue!"

Upstairs at The Unicorn

Music: Michael Chapman, Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Michael Chapman's characteristically droll introduction of his Postcards of Scarborough as ''a medley of my hit'' is doubly misleading. Although its appearance on a popular 1970s sampler album makes it the song by which he's generally remembered, this homage to drab hotels, duff food, and melancholic regret never actually dented the charts. It's also far from his only classic, however.

In a 90-minute set that brought Big Big Country to a magnificent finale while showing that the sexagenarian Yorkshireman remains a productive composer, particularly of guitar instrumentals that skilfully evoke their roots off America's beaten track, Chapman drew on a repertoire stretching back to his first album, the glorious Rainmaker, proving it a source of renewable energy.

Rainmaker's wistful One Time Thing, shorn of some of its guitar scenery, sounded freshly minted, and its near-contemporary, Soulful Lady, whose recorded version boasted one of Mick Ronson's finest guitar solos, found Chapman producing a rocking acoustic sound to rival his old band all by himself.

Chapman always was a superb guitarist, with a thumb and fingers for a rhythm section capable of extending his range - as here - from bluesy picking to Django Reinhardt-style swing sophistication, ragtime intricacies, and an apposite bottleneck elegy to his late friend, John Fahey. His voice, careworn and naturally downbeat, may not have been Chapman's fortune, but it suits his songwriting perfectly, and his own confession to out-miserying Leonard Cohen is soon nullified by humorous anecdotes about trains, boats, and the aforementioned Fahey's dinner-table eccentricities. A Fully Qualified Survivor indeed, and since he only lives down by Hadrian's Wall, can someone not ensure that Chapman visits us more often?

Mon 19-May-2003 Rob Adams Glasgow Herald


Great idea for a double bill. Singer-songwriter Tim's making a well-received comeback after an all-too-long absence, and back on home territory he's lost none of his following (he still gigs at the Grove quite often too). He's also lost none of that unique presence, with a grand line in laconic chat and anecdotes, and his songs are as relevant, perceptive and hard-hitting as ever. Promoting (well, sort of, in an offhand and low-key way) his new CD The Obvious Rhyme, which he'd recently showcased on Henry Ayrton's Folk & Roots radio show, and also taking the chance to refresh our memories on just how great a song Free Man is (as if we needed reminding!), Tim's forty minutes of Roscoe fame slipped by all too quickly.

And then it was on with the main man - for me a long-awaited return for another Leeds man, though one who seems to have been absent from the local scene for far too long. The last time I'd seen him was at the Grove in fact,some 5 years ago I reckon it must be, when there were just four of us and the pub dog in the audience and he'd played a stunning close-on-two-hour straight set. Sadly, Michael's set at the Roscoe lasted just 70 minutes, but right from the off he showed he can still cut it - and how! Comments like "now I throw me guitar away!" after the first number were fairly typical incredulous reactions from folk who'd never seen Michael before, while there was rapt attention paid to every last note by the rest of the crowd. The volume level seemed cranked up a mite loud at first, especially when Michael started singing (hey, that deep smoky drawl's a voice to die for!), but it settled down nicely after a few minutes. Michael gave us a well balanced set, high on atmospherics (Caddo Lake and Memphis In Winter proving specially entrancing), though it was perhaps a tad light on the old favourites (till the encore, Soulful Lady) and no major improvisatory workout. The opening segué/medley of Looking For Charlie, It Ain't So and Sensimilia I thought particularly successful too. And over the whole set, miraculously, just the one string broken (and the top string at that!)! Let's hope it ain't too long before Michael can be persuaded back to Leeds.

David Kidman Stirrings Magazine 2002 back to top

Cambridge Folk Festival

Almost in relief the audience gave Michael Chapman a huge welcome. His performance was powerfully formidable without having the striking impact of which he is capable; the doomy, leaden mood of songs like "Secrets of the Locals" maybe a little too heavy at that time.

But if he didn't cut loose as he can do on the Saturday night, he did the following afternoon when he appeared with back-up singers and a band... This in complete contrast was boogie music playing a lot of stuff from the 'Savage Amusement' album, and though by no stretch of the imagination remotely connected with folk - it must have been the heaviest sound ever heard at the festival - nobody seemed too offended.

Chapman's exhortations to "get up and dance" were only partially obeyed, but it offered a healthy alternative to the sensitive delicacies being paraded during the rest of the weekend.

Link: Blueprint - June 1999 back to top

Fox & Hounds Blues & Jazz Festival: 15-17 July 1999

"By the powers of prestidigitation, the 4th Fox & Hounds Blues & Jazz Festival was transformed into a 3-day event. This was in honour of the appearance, on the Thursday, of the wonderful Michael Chapman. A veteran of 23 albums he is still performing fresh and dazzling songs interspersed with no less immediate impact items from a repertoire which goes back to 'Postcards of Scarborough' and John Peel's 'album of the year' award. Nothing more to be said - just get along and see him."

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Michael Chapman Upstairs At The Adelphi, Preston Spring 1999

As we approach the end of the millennium, when live popular music is carefully packaged, market-researched, slickly advertised and ever more remote from the man in the street, it is good to see that a handful of artists uphold the venerable tradition of the travelling troubadour. Michael Chapman is probably the best personification of this dying breed. He always travels light; often arriving at a venue with just a coat, cased guitar and his hat, and within minutes of arriving is able to play a varied two hour set choosing songs which appeal to the moment, without resorting to a set-list. Although not as popular as in the late sixties and early seventies, he's still to be found playing somewhere, sometime, most weeks of the year. Tonight he's staying locally with friends, and seems relaxed as he regales the audience with tales from his latest jaunt to the United States.

Michael Chapman is an exceptionally talented acoustic guitarist, whose percussive style of playing is so very distinctive. All night he pulls and snaps at the strings on his guitar, conjuring out the resonances which hide in the guitar body, then contrasting this with delicately arpeggiated harmonics. Vocally, he is probably gruffer than in his commercial heyday, but his voice has always had that gritty Yorkshire edge to it. He tells a good tale too, both in song and in his introductions. "Fahey's Flag", for example, is introduced by a hilarious anecdote concerning John Fahey and a bear. The set ranges over all stages of his career with old favourites such as "Kodak Ghosts" and "Soulful Lady", as well as more recent favourites such as "The Mallard" and the amusingly spelt "Bon Tom Roulay" (sic).

He finishes off with a long, modal, instrumental exploration of "She Moves Through The Fair". His hat is his totem, and when he ceremoniously removes it at the end of the song and places it on the microphone, Michael Chapman, the performer reverts to being plain Michael Chapman again. Tomorrow there's probably another gig, in another part of the country, but tomorrow is another day, and in the mean time there are friends and acquaintances to be met up with again, and stories and news to be exchanged.

Steve Wilcock Originally published in Triste

Link: Triste back to top

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