Thursday, 17 September 2015

Jake Shimabukuru Live in Liverpool - (2)

I posted yesterday about my latest Ukafrolic - preparing to go to Jake's first concert of his first UK tour in Liverpool on Tuesday. Before that I posted the interview that I was so privileged to be given by Jake for this blog. So there I was at St George's Hall, as excited as any teenager about to see their favourite pop star!

I was lined up to assist with selling merchandise for Jake's team... Jake's new CD "Travels" and Jake teeshirts. As such, I was also privileged to have Green Room access. Mary (Mary Agnes Krell, tour organiser for Grand Northern Events) and I went up there to check that everything was ready for Jake and his team to arrive, and very soon afterwards in they came.

I was so conscious that here were people about to put on a first full concert in a strange venue in a foreign country... tension? Nerves? Certainly not from the performers! So relaxed, so warm and friendly! And so solicitous... would I like some orange juice, asked Jake... what, me? You're considering ME? But yes, he was! I was very touched - what a nice young man - and I just didn't want to be in the way!

Jake signed the little blue uke for the Cavern Club Hall of Fame. Then Mary and I set up the table to sell CD's and tee-shirts and I waited there, poised, for folks to arrive. Business was brisk... I was delighted to see Peter Moss and Andy Eastwood, brilliant uke players themselves, both in the highest echelons of British ukery, and both of whom I've featured on here several times... Tim Smithies of Dead Man's Uke appeared at my shoulder, and of course, In Liverpool, the Mersey Belles! I think the most excited of all the musicians there was Michael Adcock, who has to be one of Jake's most fervent fans.

I was honoured to have a couple of quiet minutes with Jake in the Green Room before the show... how wonderful - he signed my Little White Uke on the headstock and I could not believe how laid back he is, less than 15 minutes before playing - his genuine warmth was an absolute joy to be around.

The concert was in the Concert Room. What a fabulous room for Jake's first performance here... it is staggeringly beautiful. Charles Dickens gave many readings on that stage as he considered it the perfect venue! Do follow the link for a full description!

Jake came on stage to tumultuous applause, accompanied by his bass player Nolan, and the two of them gave us a full ninety minutes of wonderful music! If anyone entered that room unsure of whether they would like Jake's performance, any doubts were soon dispelled. He held that audience totally mesmerised. Every piece was different in mood, and different in the array of picking and strumming skills - how often I heard gasps at the sounds Jake so expertly teased out of that beautiful custom Kamaka... and Jake and Nolan were the perfect stage partnership - Nolan accompanied Jake's playing with consummate skill and sensitivity - it was clear that they love playing together. What a joy!

I can understand why Jake is often called the "Jimi Hendrix of the ukelele"... they used to say that Hendrix and his guitar were "as one" when he played... his musicality was such that he was on a different plane when he played... and this was how Jake came across to me as I watched and listened. He oozes musicality. I said to him after the show, "Jake, you don't play music - you ARE music..."

There were two standing ovations! Lordy, Lordy....

Directly after the concert I rushed down to man the stall again and it was manic... everyone wanted a CD, everyone wanted a teeshirt... not surprising. Then Jake came out to do a meet and greet... and everyone went home totally bowled over by this young man. I shall never forget Michael Adcock's face... still transported, half an hour after the show ended! What a shame my camera was still in the Green Room! Thank you. Mary and Rob, for bringing this to fruition.

Jake in England.

Then next morning, Jake was on the BBC, national TV. I watched the interview from my hotel room and smiled broadly. What a Ukafrolic I had had - a day never to be forgotten!

As I write, Jake is appearing in London, a sell-out.... but you can still catch him in Leeds or Bath!

photos courtesy of Rob Collins,

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