CONCERT REVIEW - Tommy Loose, Nailing Jelly to the Ceiling Tour, South Holland Centre, Spalding

Tommy Loose with his harp-guitar at South Holland Centre, Spalding.
Tommy Loose with his harp-guitar at South Holland Centre, Spalding.
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An acoustic showcase with no strings attached

Just two months on from giving a South Holland Centre audience a taste of his guitar-playing talents, Tommy Loose was at it again on Friday.

Supported by aspiring guitarist Tom Brackstone and self-styled “quirky” singer-songwriter Hand Drawn by Crayons, alias Kieran Jordan, an acoustic music fan’s paradise had the ideal setting of the centre’s Function Hall.

Young Tom opened the proceedings with a four-item set, including his version of The Police’s Message in a Bottle.

Then it was Hand Drawn By Crayons’ turn to impress, with both original and cover songs, all played by a barefooted singer-guitarist paying homage to 1960s folk siren Joan Baez.

Both supporting acts prepared the scene nicely for Tommy who introduced tracks from his debut album Nearly Unique, including the haunting Memories of Me.

The main characteristic of the concert was a rare economy of chat that added a welcome urgency to the night, placing a premium on the music whilst not taking away from Tommy’s engaging personality.

Both the music and the man made the concert what it was - a real treat.

Speaking to Spalding Today, Tommy said: “I’ve done about 11 or 12 gigs over the past two months and Spalding is the last one of my tour.

“Nailing Jelly to the Ceiling comes from when I was at university where I took my harp-guitar into one of my lectures.

“My lecturer said ‘it must be like nailing jelly to the ceiling to tune that thing’.

Wisbech-based Tommy is keen to put some of his musical talent down to his years as a student at Spalding Grammar School.

But ultimately the dedicated music teacher and examiner with Rockschool, an educational body for rock musicians, dancers and musical theatre, was fortunate to have grown up in a musical family where he was able to progress from playing the piano to the tuba, aged 11, and the guitar two years later.

“I spent 15 years playing in a heavy metal band and also played the tuba in a big orchestra,” Tommy said.

“Then I went and had three years at university before starting work on the album in 2007 at the same time as I started working at a music shop in Wisbech.

“I went on to become a music teacher, lecturer and examiner but now I’m aiming to do a lot more performing and crafting of my own shows, working on my own material and, at the same time, keeping all the other material.”

Tommy is a regular at Youth Takeover, the annual Music in the Market Place and played a part in Classic Takeover with the City of London Sinfonia last November.

“I had a supporting spot date booked at a different venue when the Cara Dillon concert came up,” Tommy said.

“As time progressed, I forged quite a good relationship with the people at South Holland Centre and when they mentioned to me that a support slot was going with Cara Dillon, I was put in touch with her agent.

“They liked what they heard from me and I was put on the bill.

“It was a chance to express my music, experimental acoustic and my harp-guitar songs mixed in with it, to some new people.

“Looking ahead, it would be nice to get to a point where I could be represented by an agent so that I can just focus on my performing career.”

Review and interview by Winston Brown.