1st June 2007
‘The Chough’ on a Friday night is a lovely pub with a friendly atmosphere. Music played in the background, people were eating in the restaurant and bar and there was a gentle hum of conversation and laughter.
Mark arrived just before 9pm and started setting up his guitar and microphone. It was very informal and casual and he chatted to people as he got ready and re-arranged the furniture!
Then he started to sing. Mark's voice sends tingles down the spine, so pure and controlled yet such power he has - he is the best singer I have ever seen and, though it is 17 years since I last heard him live, he has lost none of his stage presence or power.
Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl" was first, followed by 'Destination Love' (a track from Yakety Yak) , then two Bowie numbers, 'Ziggy Stardust' and 'Changes'.
Then, knowing we were there, he sang 'A Heartbeat Away' and 'Feuding Family Band', commenting that we wouldn't forgive him if he didn't (and he was right!) To hear him sing his own songs live (and two of my personal favourites) was wonderful.
He went on to sing an amazingly wide range of songs - numbers by Snow Patrol (Chasing Cars), The Beatles (A Day in the Life and Strawberry Fields), another Bowie number (Starman), 'Drift Away', which had been covered on The McGann CD and numerous others including a couple of Irish songs, 'Tell Me Ma' and 'The Fields of Athenry' (a cheerful little number about the potato famine!)
Mark interacted with the crowd all the way through and there was a very funny moment when someone requested he sing The Monkee's 'I'm a Believer' - with comments about Aled Jones, the song ended early with much hilarity!
As the evening wore on, the pub filled up even more and the crowd grew ever larger - by this point Mark was surrounded with people dancing and singing along and the place was really buzzing. His set finished around 11pm after several encores as no-one wanted to see him leave.
This was Mark's first gig at The Chough for some time and it hadn't been terribly well advertised, but word had got around and by the evenings end a lot of Mark's regular fans had turned up - it was a truly amazing evening.
Mark enjoyed himself enormously and it showed throughout his performance - if you have the chance to get down to The Chough and see him then do - it'll live in your memory for a long time to come.
15th June 2007
Mark's second appearance at The Chough was similar in style to his first - though the crowd were slightly more raucous! - but this time he sang two more original songs during the set.
The first was 'Bohemian Man' which was written by Joe (McGann) and Gary Shail. The second was 'It shouldn't happen to your heart', written by Mark himself. Both were excellent and Mark has promised more to come - so get yourself down to The Chough!
13th July 2007
Mark said, when he started these gigs, that every one was different. This gig was indeed that. Compared to the other gigs I have seen this was much quieter and very different in atmosphere, but incredibly special. It was like being at an intimate party with lots of good friends. The place was very busy, just not as noisy as usual. Mark did more requests and there was a lot of interaction with the crowd. There was also a presentation of a birthday cake to Mark and the whole pub joined in with a rendition of Happy Birthday. Whenever you go to The Chough, it will be an experience not to be missed - just make sure you get there!
27th July 2007
Mark rocked tonight!
Each time I've seen him he's surpassed the last performance and this was no exception.
He sang songs I hadn't heard him sing before - Tears for Fears, U2 - which were incredibly popular and some favourites like 'Brown Eyed Girl' and 'Wonderwall', that an evening wouldn't be the same without. A few originals, which included the beautiful number 'You are the Sun', a song Mark had written this week and towards the evening's end the classic 'American Pie', by which time Mark had everyone in the palm of his hand.
The eclectic mix of people makes this a very memorable evening - all enjoying the music of this oh-so-talented man.
5th October 2007
This was Mark's final gig at The Chough. The pub had been sold two days before and would be under new ownership from the 6th October. Most patrons were unaware of this until the end of Mark's gig when it was announced that they were closing down.
So this was bittersweet. Mark, being admittedly self-indulgent (for which we were very grateful!) played several of his own tracks and many Beatle numbers, as well as the favourites that we had been hearing during these gigs.
An emotional evening for eveeryone there and I look forward to seeing Mark doing more live gigs in the future.