Rapturous welcome for folk legend Ralph
Ralph McTell, Albany Theatre, Coventry, Nov 16.
Three guitars, one harmonica, a man with a captivating voice and a story to tell – nothing else needed. The concert started 10 minutes late due to a technical hitch - Ralph’s harmonica strap had broken but luckily he had another one. And boy, was it worth the wait. He's now 73, but his voice is the same as I remembered it in the 60s and 70s - deep, rich and melodic. He never missed a note and his guitar playing was sublime. Confident and comfortable in his role as musical story teller, he was happy to share the tales attached to his songs. He told the audience that he couldn’t read music but was happy noodling. This was a new word for me and means "to improvise on a musical instrument." Over the years, he told us, noodling had worked extremely well for him. His one and only hit, Streets of London, has been recorded by more than 200 artists. You could clearly see the love he had for his guitars. His favourite was his original Gibson but he was also very proud that the world-renowned American guitar maker, Martin, had named a model after him, the Martin RM50, and what an amazing sound it made. Playing all three guitars in turn, which included a 12-string, with deference and dexterity, he entertained the audience from start to finish. And, of course, he did sing, Streets of London, just as meaningful now, as it was as a single, in 1974. The concert closed to rapturous applause for one of folk’s most influential characters.