When John Tams took to the stage at Mottram St Andrew he was playing only his third ever solo show! Quite something for someone who has been performing live for more than fifty years. He claimed to be nervous, though if he was you would never have guessed it from the wonderful, warm, passionate and deeply emotional performance he delivered.
Each and every song had a story, a history behind it, each and every one a highly personal marker in John's life and career. Opening with three of the first songs he ever learned, Freight Train, Go tell Aunt Rhody and Riding in my Car, playing them on a battered Epiphone guitar he had rescued from a skip in Hamburg in the early 1960s!
He moved on to the humour of Nowt to do with me, a beautiful rendition of Gerry Rafferty's The Coat She Wore, Who Will Blow the Candle out Tonight and Four Strong Winds, before moving to the ukulele for Health and Beauty.
The first half finished with a hugely emotional performance of Yonder Down the Winding Road, with John singing the chorus in English whilst wife Sally sang along in Ukrainian. It brought a lump to the throat and many in the audience were visibly moved.
The second half began with Amelia Where you Bound to, replete with excellent audience participation, followed by Whitby, Rosie Smiles at the Moon (dedicated to their grand daughter), The Rifles and then it was the familiar strains of Sharpe's theme before John left the stage to a standing ovation. He returned to sing a rousing and uplifting rendition of Rolling Home.
A fabulous night of music and song was capped by the fact that we raised the sum of £300 for the Red Cross and their Ukrainian appeal. Thanks to everyone who contributed via the raffle and bingo tickets. "Yonder we shall share the load, yonder down the winding road, we shall reap what we have sowed, yonder down the winding road"
Truer words never written!
Tom Kitching and Marit Fält February 2022
Review to follow