Bert Jansch – Live At the 12 Bar

Posted on 31 July 2015 by Joe

Bert Jansch’s passing in 2011 was a tragedy for music. From the 1960s right up until his later years this stellar guitarist and underrated songwriter was capable of hanging onto his old fans and still bring in new ones alike, especially with his excellent 2006 album Black Swan.

jansch

A key factor in his enduring appeal was his effortlessly dazzling guitar playing and his place in music history, along with Davy Graham and John Renbourn, in taking folk music to new and sometimes even exotic levels.

In short the man was a legend. But he didn’t do legendary gigs, instead they were often warm intimate affairs, and this 1996 gig at the 12 Bar is no exception. As ever his guitar playing here is beautiful and the mix of songs spanning his career to date, including favourites such as Blackwater Slide, Woman Like You and Strolling Down the Highway, gives it a greatest hits feel and therefore makes it a superb introduction to his work for the uninitiated.

Don’t expect long rambling banter from Bert though. That gets in the way of the songs and his chats here are brief, but to the point and still friendly. He’ll make a wry aside here and there and focus on giving a small piece of detail about the song, which is why he was on stage in the first place after all. During such brief interludes he takes time to make sure the name Jackson C Frank is remembered during his cover of the American songwriter’s Blues Run The Game. Same goes for Victor Jara, the murdered Chilean folk singer who is the subject of Let Me Sing.

Is this live set exceptional? No, but crucially it is typical of a warm spirited, much missed giant of English music.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

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