“No… Well, this song is for all of us then”.
US songwriter Stephen Kellogg has been touring extensively in support of his new album ‘Blunderstone Rookery’. He made his first visit to the UK in July 2013 with appearances in London and the Maverick Festival. 8 months later he has returned for a series of shows including an intimate performance at The Islington pub.
Armed with only an acoustic guitar, Kellogg delivers a set with the energy and confidence of a hard working rock band. This is understandable given his credentials. Up until 2012 he was the frontman and principal songwriter for ‘The Sixers’, who after 10 years decided to take a hiatus with a farewell show at Webster Hall in New York City. This experience has clearly left a mark on Kellogg’s solo shows as he launches through fan favourites and excellent new material such as ‘Lost And Found’and ‘Forgive Me, Forgive You’.
Between the songs Kellogg fills in the blanks with anecdotes on friends, family and life on the road. This personal touch has a huge affect on the audience who are able to connect the songs as part of a larger constellation. The show culminates with a staggering rendition of ‘Thanksgiving’, a 10 minute opus which on the album features a choir and a host of other musical instruments. For the encore he unplugs and joins the audience to sing ‘The Bear’ with unanimous participation and a few spontaneous lyrics.
During ‘The Brain Is A Beautiful Thing’, Kellogg sings ‘I still believe in the working class. No matter what you do, you’re gonna have to bust your ass’. After the show he spends considerable time signing albums, posing for photographs and finding out more about his audience. His interaction with fans commands the same level of sincerity both on and off the stage. Many will point to artists such as Springsteen and Petty as examples of musical icons with blue collar ethics. He may not be a household name yet, but Kellogg has the same qualities and the material to match.