Live Review: Chris T-T, Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo.

Oran Mor – 13/10

It’s a little disconcerting when your first thought upon walking into a gig is whether this is the right place or not. With seats laid out and a clientele of mostly polite-looking, bejumpered couples, Oran Mor looks more in A Play, a Pie and a Pint mode than a live music set up, but the merch desk and gathering crowd serve to put such concerns to rest and a quiet buzz begins to build.

Emily Barker is the main event but there is an endearing democracy between her and support act Chris T-T as Emily hops up on stage to introduce him. This is to be expected after their intertwining history of performance and friendship with Frank Turner. Chris T-T has been a more comfortably leftist protest-song writer throughout his musical career which has seen him through to his ninth album, The Bear, released early in October.

His set consists of a selection of new songs from this album, making the transition from full band to English boy with a guitar (or keyboard, or indeed acappella) without any difficulty. This leads to a strange juxtaposition between his insistent ‘Don’t fuck with people’ tracks and a selection of songs from his acclaimed 2011 Fringe show in which he put A.A. Milne poems to music, a project intended to pacify fans of his who wished to have something to play to their children. This is a little easier to swallow once context has been given, otherwise the sight of a grown man singing to an adult audience about sillies and bears in London streets is just a little odd. There is an necessary tweeness, but if anyone can balance communism, dead dolphins, love and not stepping on the cracks then it’s Chris T-T, whose sincerity undercuts his knowing sweetness. It’s cute, but his relationship with the audience is earnest and when he begins to act a part, falling into a musician stereotype, he catches himself and apologises with a disarming honesty. While, swearing apart, he falls into the category of ‘nice’, it’s difficult not to respect him as a performer.

[Caitlin MacColl]

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