Concert Reviews

Morganway / CC Smugglers Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 02, 2019    
0.0 (0)
456   0   0   0   0   0

Morganway / CC Smugglers - Village Hall, King's Somborne (UK) - 26 October 2019

I will admit it's extremely rare that I attend a gig (be it for personal enjoyment or review purposes) solely to see/support the opening act, and even on the very odd occasion when I have done that in the past, I usually at least know the headliner in some capacity. However, tonight I knew absolutely nothing about CC Smugglers prior to the show and decided to keep it that way so as to allow the uncommon opportunity to be surprised by what I saw, which rarely happens these days due to the number of submissions from various groups or artists I demo during the course of a Fireworks issue. I have also been to a multitude of different and less usual venues for a concert – the overtly posh Route Of The Kings at Hyde Park for Bryan Adams, the Royal Hospital Chelsea to see Toto, The Rose Bowl (Hampshire Cricket Club ground) again for Bryan Adams and even a local pub in my hometown of Andover to see Newman play a warm-up gig – but I have never been to one at a village Hall. In fairness, the village hall in King's Somborne is vastly more impressive, modern and bigger than any others I have known. However, on the off-chance you're wondering why I reviewed this particular date from a multitude of others where these two bands have played together, the simple reason is that King's Somborne is just fifteen minutes down the road from where I live; given the majority of concerts I go to require a journey to London or Southampton, it made a nice change to have one so local and thus it was a no-brainer.

For the benefit of those reading this review who do not also read Fireworks, I am a huge fan of Morganway. When I demoed their self-titled debut for potential review in our Sept 2019 issue, it totally blew me away and I not only did the review myself but also an interview as well. I was so impressed by the release that it is presently in the running for my 2019 Album Of The Year. I also read some online posts that stated they were even better in the live environment than on the recorded album so it was certainly a gig of total opposites with high expectations for Morganway and no expectations for CC Smugglers.

The six-piece opened their set with 'Devil's Canyon' and 'My Love Ain't Gonna Save You', and it was quickly apparent that the aforementioned live reputation was entirely deserved. The musicianship was not only fantastic but also crisp and clear (with Nicole J. Terry's fiddle playing even more prominent), while the vocal harmonies were every bit as rich as those found on the record. However, as was the case with my album review, the aspect that impressed me the most was the vocals of SJ Mortimer. She deployed her full range from quiet and hushed through extended/held high notes to her raspy growl. 'Let Me Go' was up next and it was every bit as good as hoped it would be with some great vocals, fine fiddle playing and some glorious fret-work from guitarist Kieran Morgan. They took the pace down a notch for the "slightly Psychedelic" ballad 'Frozen In Our Time' which was rather beautifully performed by all the members of the group. Morganway closed out their opening slot with two ripping renditions of what are (by a whisker) my two favourites on the album. Bassist/guitarist Callum Morgan swapped not only his bass for his twin brother's guitar, but he also took over from Mortimer on lead vocals and proved he too is a fine vocalist. The whole band looked like they were having a blast during this track with lots of movement on stage and some huge smiles; it was pretty obvious the band enjoy playing this one live as much as any other track. Their short opening set came to a close with another of my favourites in 'Hurricane' and it was quite amusing during this song when Callum Morgan and Terry swapped places stage right for Terry to have to stand on almost tip-toe to reach the mic where the bassist had been singing, given the huge difference in their heights; suffice to say you could see the smirks on stage. As she was through the whole set, Mortimer really let rip at the end with some fine, throaty singing in the choruses. Sadly, their all too brief performance had then reached its end and although I would say the audience were not your typical gig-going crowd, they did get a decent applause. I had a chance to talk to most of the band during the interval, and they were all extremely down to earth, welcoming and happy to take the time to talk to everyone.

As I mentioned above, I had no idea at all of what to expect from CC Smugglers, but they turned out to be quite a revelation and extremely entertaining. Musically, their sound was a rocking mix of fifties/sixties Rock 'n' Roll (complete with Dan Edwards on a proper double bass) with some Folk embellishments from Sam Barrett on fiddle/ukulele and Ryan Thomas on banjo and dobro. Much like Morganway, their ace in the hole was enigmatic and charismatic front-man Richie Prynne, who was a showman from start to finish. Admittedly, their style was more suited to those with a wide taste range in music rather than music lovers who steadfastly seek out a diet of pure Rock and Metal, but regardless of personal preferences, you couldn't help but be impressed by their performance. I didn't catch many of the song titles, but their high-pace set saw them fire out track after track with plenty of energy, musical ability and enthusiasm. The various band members play a variety of instruments and it was fascinating to watch how they would swap from guitar to something like a ukulele or banjo to add a different sound. 'Dirty Money' was one particularly memorable track that saw several in the audience bopping away. Around half the tracks came from their debut album 'How High' with a further couple coming from the 'Write What You Know' EP. I will be honest and state that I am not sure whether the remaining tracks (from the fifteen or so played) were original compositions or a few covers of tracks I simply don't know; either way, they were all rather enjoyable. During their set, Prynne announced that sadly CC Smugglers would be calling it a day following the tour, and the reason for this hit home with me. The band are another casualty of the PledgeMusic implosion. From what I understand from what he said on stage, they did indeed raise the money for the album but lost the funding and ended up deeply in debt personally (or more specifically to his father) from the whole experience... to such an extent that it was no longer viable. Recent readers of Fireworks will know we have covered over this through an interview with Danny Vaughn from Tyketto who also found himself losing out due to the operating practices and eventual ending of PledgeMusic. Having seen how this has caused immense distress and difficulties for other acts I have spoken to (some who recovered and some who didn't), I truly felt for CC Smugglers. However, they didn't let this bring the whole show down, and it almost seemed that having mentioned this during their show provided some extra impetus to really go for it. It was a joy to see Prynne wander through the audience as he sang one particular song and it was the sort of event where little special moments like that could take place. Having started out as street performers, CC Smugglers ended their show much like they started their career. The whole band came out to the middle of the audience in a circle – where they were joined by some of Morganway as well – and proceeded to blast out a rollicking rendition of 'Stand In The Street'. It was a really nice way to close out a rather fine and (considering I knew nothing about the group) surprising show.

Morganway were everything I hoped they would be live, and whilst the audience were not the most riotous I've ever witnessed, they certainly gave it all on stage which in turn the live reputation. I certainly can't wait to see them do a headline show when they next play one somewhere near me. For a band I previously knew nothing about, CC Smugglers were an absolute delight, which only makes the fact they are calling it a day all the more sad. I purchased a CD based purely on their performance tonight, and though it is only a drop in the ocean of what they need to recoup... as Prynne himself said, every little helps. If you like that style of music, I strongly suggest you check them out online and if you also like what you hear, then why not pick up a CD. Who knows, if enough people do that, then maybe the band could yet continue. It may not have been at Wembley Arena or The Underworld in Camden, but tonight King's Somborne Village Hall proved a fine evening of entertainment and I take my hat off to the organisers of the Somborne Sessions.

Review by Dave Scott, photos by Michelle Compton

Share this on the web.

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.


Comments (0)add comment

Write comment

security image
Write the displayed characters


Member Login


<<  February 2020  >>
 Mo  Tu  We  Th  Fr  Sa  Su 
       1  2
  3  4  5  6  7  8  9

Search Here

Shout Here

Latest Message: 1 week, 1 day ago
  • SeaDog57 : just an observation. I just got Issue 89 at the Bookstore and when i looked at the spine of the magazine it says "Fireworks Issue 85 Winter Jan - Mar 2019" Was this a misprint? The rest of the Magazine is Issue 89. Was just wondering did anyone else notice this?
  • Berny : Apologies! Magazine can now be accessed from your download section. Best wishes, B.
  • Berny : @Martykelly: We're sorry
  • Martykelly : Just purchased issue 89 hoping its going to be in my download soon.
  • Johns Band : Will "Watch & Listen" music videos make a comeback. Just order H.E.A.T. "Live In London" CD.
  • Berny : @the trapps: Apologies for the delay in processing your order. The magazine is now available in your downloads section.
  • the trapps : waiting for the issue 89 which we purchased to be in our downloads section ???
  • Berny : @tomandpam: Many thanks for your purchase. The download instructions were sent yesterday, please contact me at «email» should you haven't received the email.
  • tomandpam : I paid for a download on issue 89 and didn't receive the download. Please let me know when I can get it. Thanks
  • Berny : @zom414: Fireworks Magazine #89 will be available at selected UK based newsagents on December 16th. The digital version can already be purchased in our Download Store.
  • zom414 : When's the next mag due for release?
  • Berny : @el nowy: Apologies for the delay in processing your order. Pls. check your mail!
  • el nowy : Hi, how long does it take for my download license to be available? I purchased it 3 days ago. Thanks!
  • Rocktopia Te : @l.thijs: Apologies for the delay, your digital copy can now be downloaded from your "My Downloads" section.
  • l.thijs : Hi Fireworks Magazine. I made a purchase on 10 nov and I paid by Paypall. I bought the #85 fireworks mag download for GBP3,50. But I didn,t receive anything. Please can you find out what's going on?
  • kazooba : I have digital versions of every issue from 27 thru 88, any way I can get issues 1 - 26 with cd's digitally?
  • Berny : @SeaDog57: The links are in the Fireworks menu. Have you tried scrolling down? Maybe your screen size is too small...
  • SeaDog57 : Berny; there are only links up to Fireworks 86. Which is kinda strange because i already downloaded CD 87 but i'm looking for the link to CD 88...Chris
  • Rocktopia Te : @Johns Band: Can you please contact us here: «email»
  • Johns Band : Fireworks Magazine 88 did not arrive by post. paid by PayPal. Any Suggestion.
  • Berny : @bpomper: Can you pls. contact the Rocktopia team here: «email»
  • bpomper : i found the problem..old email i can not access.i have tried to change it by editing my info but it wont allow. any suggestions
  • Berny : @bpomper: A reply was sent yesterday, We recommend checking your spam/junk mail to see if our message was filtered there. The magazine was already sent to your shipping address. Please let me know if you do not receive it within the next couple of days. Thanks for your patience!
  • bpomper : Thanks didnt of that. I still have not heard about fireworks 88 was it sent out. Thankyou
  • Rocktopia Te : @bpomper: For security reasons, we removed your previous message. Please do not post your private e - mail address. Many thanks for your understanding.
  • bpomper : Thanks for the reply. I see download but can you confirm that hardcopy was or is sent ou .thanks.the email i used is inder the contact me info of the website
  • Berny : @bpomper: Apologies for your troubles. Where did you send the email to? We haven't received anything. I will send you a longer reply via mail. Also, you can download the free CD from the "Fireworks" menu on top, but the CD links are only shown if you are logged in.
  • bpomper : 3rd email inquiring about my purchase of fireworks #88. i purchased on the 2oth of sept and today is the 24 with no response...paypal has taken the payment. should i have a down load of the cd for mu usa magazine. Looking forward to an answer
  • bpomper : hello i purchased fireworks #88 through paypal on9/23 and have not recieved an email from rocktopia. purchase is for a hard copy of the mag. should i have cd download instructions.when should i expect it
  • Berny : @Johns Band: I've just sent you an e - mail. Best regards, B.

Only registered users are allowed to post

Follow Us


This website uses cookies to help us give you the best experience when you visit. Cookies used for the essential operation of the site have already been set. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our Privacy Statement.

I accept cookies from this site