Rick Dobbing + JP Riggall The Sitting Room Guisborough Thurs 8 March
By Robert Nichols
Friday 16 Mar 2018 10:15:00
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It had been snowing once again in Guisborough, the perfect weather for J.P. Riggall and his character created for his first two solo albums. A man that lived beyond the edge, isolated in the wilderness in a lonely cabin would easily be able to cope with a bit of snow. We were to find out at The Sitting Room that James character was now facing up to more trials and tribulations for the second album. Fortunately for the rest of us and The Sitting Room staff the snow disappeared almost as suddenly as it arrived and so there was no problem reaching this homely Church Street venue.

Rick Dobbing

Rick Dobbing from Dressed Like Wolves was first to play, for one night only ably supported by Tom Joshua on guitar, keyboards and drum. The duo were perched on stools surrounded by fairy lights and blackboards displaying craft beers and exotic sounding cocktails.

Rick plunged back into his first album for to start off, The gig opener was Atlas, which he dedicated to me, rightly saying it was a big favourite. Every song tells a story, some based on the farm where he lives. A farm surrounded by Ingleby Barwick. Nothing is conventional with Rick. Everything seems paradoxically. He plays acoustically, and sings from the heart and with great feeling and sensitivity, yet he can generate more energy, more layers of emotion and also more volume (aided by Tom on that drum) than many a full on plugged in rock band.

I also love the tales in between the songs. A song about cancelling the Sky, not the satellite TV although incidentally they were doing that at Rick's house.

Rick left his tooth brush in his hotel room, the innocent trigger point for a wonderful reflective song that builds past a gentle keyboard refrain through crashing guitar and drum to an epic conclusion. And when I think of our doom I think of my teeth and how they're not as clean as I'd like them to be..

Rick Dobbing may usually be Dressed Like Wolves but J.P.Riggall always comes dressed for winter. He clings on to his woollen hat as if the songs that paint a vivid picture of a struggle against inner strife and the elements might just beckon the outside weather inside. Fortunately not. My lemonade won't receive extra ice from the wind chill in Church Street.

The title track of his first album, Long Dark Bright, makes for a moody and rather magnificent opener. The repetitive guitar and vocals, subtly rising and falling cocoons you into an atmosphere, in a different time and space. Inside that frontier cabin looking out into the vast wilderness. A psychological thriller, on the Cold, Cold Mountain.

Sitting Room gig

We soon discover that James' character, will have progressed to a port by the sea for the second album. No sea shanties but instead tales of sea Creatures from the deep. I say he has progressed but could this be him facing up to another fear?

Mr Riggall soon reveals that he has a lifelong anxiety around water. Something the second album will expose and explore. In his preamble to Swim Leader, he tells us about his wife taking his little baby to the baths. But the baby is so small. James wife and child feature in many of the songs, clearly a happy, fulfilling and exciting time for them all. Sea Coal Collectors romances the first meeting between James and Emma, to meet on a beach collecting sea coal is a little more out there than in a nightclub.

Back to the sea and there are songs about Robinson Crusoe (hey did you know he came from York?) and the almost fathomless depths of the Mariana Trench. All with those repeated chord progressions and sudden step changes choruses that immerse you neck deep in the Riggall scenario.

sitting room

It is a magical night with two performers that take you on a real journey. Winter warmers, both of them. And as I catch the alluring odours of slices of pizza being brought from the kitchen I am tempted to stay inside this Sitting Room with a nice hot chocolate and think about the music and the lyrical adventures and make myself a home from home.

Photos by Becky Mitchell and Charley Archer.

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