Photo of Tyler Massey Trio gig

Tyler Massey Trio at Paradiddles, Worcester – 22nd August 2020

After several gig-free months, the local live music scene has started making the first few tentative steps of its return. While cramped, sweaty rooms full of revellers still seem a way off, and festivals are kaput (unless, presumably, some foxes or grouse are chased by festival-goers at some point?), Worcester’s Paradiddles and other venues have been trialling outdoor, socially-distanced gigs.

Despite the vibe of outdoor shows being a little different (assigned seating, table service only, etc), it certainly feels good to be able to hear live music again! Saturday the 22nd August saw the Tyler Massey Trio played their first show in months, in the Paradiddles beer garden. Pre-lockdown, Tyler’s West Malvern Social Club night was a Thursday evening staple—he adapted to the “new normal” by relaunching the night as a weekly podcast featuring a huge variety of artists!

Despite the success of the podcast, the excitement to perform to a live physical audience again was unmistakable. Opening the night was Theone Mae Dawes, who delivered a healing set of original folk songs like the fantastic “Earth Stood Out”, which did as its name suggested. Theone’s delicate songs suited the summer evening vibes down to a tee, and the audience were in high spirits by the time the Tyler Massey Trio took to the gazebo’d stage area.

I’ve been to plenty of the folk-rock trio’s shows before, and they were on top form as usual despite the long break! Kicking straight into gear with the propulsive “How to Complete an Emergency Stop”, the trio played as a tight unit. Tyler’s guitar and assured vocal delivery was backed effectively by Alex Knight’s winding bassline and Eric Hej’s measured percussion. Over the course of the set, Eric switched from a stripped-down drum kit to his classic djembe for tracks like the introspective and richly melodic “Shoulder to the Wheel”, and the raucous jam “Frank”.

New, lockdown-formed cut “Slowly Turning Blue” showed that Tyler’s songwriting hasn’t suffered from the lack of live performance, and old favourites like “American Nightmare” and “The Devil You Know” hit as hard as they ever did. After the set closed with the plaintive regret of “I Was Wrong”, there was a sense of bittersweetness about the night, with the future of live music still uncertain.

The night was not only a taste of what we had missed during those long months of isolation, but a reminder that the scene needs our support now more than ever if we are to have more nights of great music in the future.

By: Dan Knight

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