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Andrew Combs, Live in Winchester *****

Andrew Combs band at the Railway Inn, Winchester.

The ever wonderful Andrew Combs kicked off his first post-pandemic European tour with an intimate show at The Railway Inn, Winchester. Promoting his stunning new album Sundays, Combs led his trio and the audience through a mesmerising 90-minute set.

This was a show of two halves, the first being a complete run through of his fifth album, with a rearranged order for the performance. “Some of these songs have never been played live before,” he said proudly. You would not have known.

Combs delivered a scintillating performance, superbly backed by two of his recording companions from the album, long-time musical partner Jerry Bernhardt on guitar/Mellotron keyboard/bass/vocals, and Dom Billet on bass/drums/vocals. Interestingly, Bernhardt and Billet deftly shared a bass guitar, with Bernhardt right-handed and Billet left-handed.

Andrew Combs at the Railway Inn, Winchester.

Kicking off with Shall We Go, Anna Please and (God)less Combs gently led the audience through the new album, the vinyl copies which he saw for the first time that evening all sold from the merch stall afterwards, one to this reviewer.

The album is a product of a pandemic breakdown “I wasn’t sure whether to say or not about my depression but all the songs on the album are formed from it so I needed to.” he commented. Down Among The Dead carried a heavier groove live than on the record and the guys went for it big time.

Combs delivers dry wit between tracks, Still Water was introduced as “still, not sparkling” and about a love song to his wife he quipped “she’s at home with our five year old and newborn. Good luck to her!”

Like a Feather with gorgeous three-part harmonies, and Ideal Man heralded the second half of the show, with more familiar material. Rainy Day Song contained superb guitar work. He ended the main set with Lauralee, Dirty Rain and Too Stoned To Cry. A three-song encore closed with the haunting and emotional Hazel.

Andrew Combs is a rare songwriting talent, matched with the raw emotion and passion of his captivating live performances. Always. One of the best.

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