Lyceum Folk Club of Newport: 24 September 2015
Oh my, what a night! All who were there will be able to say, "I saw Anthony John Clarke at the LFC...." Put simply, he was fablus... Faultless stage-craft combined with superb musicianship and a repertoire of songs which touched all aspects of life, love and the pursuit of happiness, (drunken nuns and questionable weekends in the big city notwithstanding!)
AJC's rapport with the audience was immediate and lasted throughout this most memorable evening. He really was the ultimate troubadour raconteur, the stories complimenting the songs and, in some cases, being the inspiration for them. (especially the Nuns & Karaoke!). Apologies to the landlord for the slight over-run, but the assembled masses just wouldn't let him go... Just brill!
To summarise, a cracking night.. Full House, great music and great times, enjoyed by all, including some welcome newbies..
Parkgate Folk Club: 28 March 2013
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Stortfolk: 21 October 2010
Great songs, great chat; the complete package served up through the unique delivery that is Anthony John Clarke. Sleepy Bishop's Stortford Hertfordshire on a damp October evening down at the British Legion Club; home of 'Stortfolk'. What brings the songsmith to this area of the country, his obliging good will or a general sense of purpose? Well it is both actually.
AJC has never forgotten the early years and the opportunity given to play 'live'. Stortfolk in its early guise was an important vehicle for driving AJC's momentum in wanting to be a performing artist. On what has become an annual visit, he is happy to settle down to an evening's music taking his turn with other local artists for the night’s art. Though playing to a small but hugely appreciative audience he produced two engaging sets that had the fortunate who attended feeling extremely good about life.
With so many songs in the repertoire an evening of AJC’s songs is always somewhat of a lucky dip. Though most certainly he has some set plan prior to a show you can detect the deviation in the train of thought as he works through a set-list. Song inclusion for the night is inspired just as much by audience reaction. On this particular evening, some personal favourites make an appearance and certainly hit the spot.
'One Night Stand', 'The High Road', 'Spread a little perfume', 'All in the Song' and 'Banjo Antarctica'... His songs are structured deliberately to bring the audience into play. There are no hiding places at an AJC show' although the track itself never surfaced the night is very much about 'sing a chorus with me'. The encore collection candidates of 'Dave Dee Dozy' and 'Broken years' were fed in amongst the tracks rather than to the latter part of the show. 'Gloria' was missing but a little 'Karaoke' certainly compensated.
A truly warm evening. His easy style and reflective mood throughout made as always the show a thoroughly absorbing and enjoyable experience. Cheeky but three sets maybe next time so that 'Midnight And Blue', 'Wrong Way Round' and 'Of Course I Will' show their face. No harm asking!
Big statements for big impressions on a personal musical appreciation journey. Anthony John Clarke is up there for me with the likes of Al Stewart most certainly. Not since my introduction to the Bed-sitter man at the time of Orange and Past Present & Future (is it really 37 years?) have I come across a singer songwriter of such quality. The guy deserves much greater exposure and success on the music circuit but the selfish streak in me would not want to lose those up close and personal events such as Bishop's Stortford. (Richard Brennan)
Queens Head, Belper: 20 October 2012
An enthusiastic audience were treated to a masterclass in songwriting at The Queens Head last Saturday. That the audience also contained travelling support says much about Anthony's stature on the club and festival circuit and why songs like 'The only life Gloria knows' are rapidly becoming standards. Like all truly fine songwriters Anthony John Clarke clearly understands the importance of humour and understatement and held his audience enthralled through two sets. His sensitive and subtle accompaniments also caught the ear and should not be underestimated.
The only question now is not if but when he returns. A great night.
Queens Head, Belper: 20 October 2012
‘Who said folk music isn’t a contact sport?’ joked Anthony John Clarke at one point in response to a rather lack-lustre sing-a-long by the audience. A gig for shrinking violets it was not.
With the nights quickly growing darker and the last of the leaves falling from the trees, folk singer Anthony John Clarke took the stage at the Queen’s Head to kick-start what will hopefully be fantastic new season of live music in Belper.
Though bitterly cold outside, the audience within the candle-lit Top Bar did their best to warmly receive Belfast born Clarke and his entourage of friends and family. Admiring the venue, he likened it to the fashionable basement clubs of New York.
Those that managed to venture their way to the top of the hill were not disappointed. Throughout the two sets charismatic Anthony effortlessly managed to switch between anecdote and song, taking cues from his childhood in Ireland during the Troubles to his years of living and performing as a singer in Liverpool.
What was surprising was the ease with which he could switch between a melancholic number like ‘The Broken Years’ to something upbeat and humorous like ‘One Night Stand’, proving he was not just a versatile story teller, but also an accomplished guitarist. Yes, it certainly looks like those guitar lessons his children bought him for Christmas are paying off.
Anthony proved popular amongst the locals I spoke to afterwards and if the reception he got after his three encores was anything to go by then no doubt his services will be required in the not too distant future. (Ed Sills: Belper News)
Bothy Folk Club: 18 July 2010
What a brilliant night's entertainment Anthony John and co. gave us on Sunday night at the Bothy club. AJ took us from happy to sad and every emotion in between - he just seems to have the knack of hitting the nail right on the head with every song he performs. You don't just get a guy singing songs, you get a great perfomance - he has a great sense of timing.
If you haven’t been to one of his gigs yet, just take time to do so - it will have an effect, I promise you. I bought his double CD and songbook at the end of the evening - the best value I’ve had out of twenty quid in a very long time.
Brilliantly crafted songs and great entertainment. Nice one AJ. (Vic Harrop)
North Cheshire Cruising Club: 27 February 2010
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Chesterfield Folk Club: 15 January 2010
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Afternoon in August captures completely the sadness and pride of a visit to these wonderful memorials and graveyards. (Joanna Lumley)
Hi Anthony How's it going? I have played that Gloria song and it makes me cry... Because it's real. (Sarah Coupe)
Just listening to '2 CD's in a fancy box : The Man With The Golden Plectrum -
Lively At The Davey Lamp'.
Class. Pure Class! (Andy Carter)
I’ve listened to your song 'Afternoon in August', 5 times now and I like it. It’s not a happy song, it’s a peaceful song, full of information about someone of ‘our generation’ (I’m 54) and the respect that is felt for the people who have died for something they believe in. [I don’t know about you, but I think that if the people that died in both world wars could see the world as it is now, they would wonder why they did such a rash act as fighting and dying] It’s not a catchy tune, but rather melancholy with glum words that should be full of melancholy tones, which is why I didn’t really like the cymbals coming in when you started to name the dead or the cymbal/drum combo hit right at the end of the song. I like the use of piano and its combination with the guitar. I also thought that perhaps a violin sound may be more in keeping with the song itself, perhaps in the middle 8. I’ve listened to it more than 8 times now and in times of quiet, I’m beginning to feel that it is running around my head – this is a good thing. (Paul Dean)
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One of the things about being Irish that I like most is the innate friendliness of the Irish people… we were brought up in a society that taught us to acknowledge other human beings beside ourselves. Having lived abroad most of my life I appreciate that aspect of my upbringing more and more. I met Anthony on his first trip over here (see photo page 23, presumably taken at the border from Sweden to Norway). I think what characterises his Irishness and his personality is the “personal” touch…you feel as if you know him from second one, and that translates into the songbook - this is a personal trip through AJ’s passions, his music, his family, friends, his parents and his life, through this compilation of songs that mean so much to the man and those around him. It also makes it easier to steal one of them for my next CD… (Jim Gordon, Bergen, Norway)
I just had to email you to say what a wonderful Songbook you have produced. Carrie presented it to me for my birthday (35 and getting younger by the year!). The format and binding are perfect for a songbook - easy to carry and sits comfortably on a music stand or coffee table and it is such a lovely book to have with the comments and photos.
I now have permission to sing the songs even when Carrie is at home so I know how my spare time is going to be spent!
Congratulations on a wonderful book and enormous thanks for allowing us even closer to your musical and lyrical genius. (Kevin O'Regan)
Book is brilliant - everyone should buy two copies. Showed it to Chris Flegg as
an example of what mere mortals like myself would like to see in a songbook -
lyrics and an idication of the chords! To work out the chords, learn the lyric,
find the tune, master the rhythm, contemplate an arrangement at at one go is
more than most people can manage ... however, given the chords (or a version of
the chords) there is a fighting chance of achieving the impossible without
rupturing a brain cell! (Jon McNamara)
Listening to Anthony John Clarke sing is an experience of the heart. His songbook equips you to open your own heart as you sing his wonderful songs. Everything you need is there, simply open it and start singing. Anthony John's songs touch the heart here in Canada as well as they do in the British Isles. The songbook is definitely worth the woman and a reindeer vest I swapped for it. Just found your songbook videos after seeing a mention on mudcat. (Simon Goodfellow, Nova Scotia, Canada)
Hi Anthony John. I immediately re-tuned my guitar to open 'D' - (a tuning I have never played in before, and how nice it is!) and had a go at a couple of songs. No surprise that it didn't sound anything like your wonderful renditions but I'm working on it! I love the size and layout of the book as it is so user friendly, but what is a real bonus is all the additional information and photos which make it a more complete history and the icing on the cake. Just think - there must now be countless fans all tinkling away at your tunes with glee :) (Heather xx)
The new book by AJC entitled "An Acquaintence" is a humourous, yet serious and
personal glimpse into the life of a man who has to be, "in my humble opinion"
one of our countrys great modern day songwriters, this is not just any old
songbook, it is a compilation of fifty short stories put to music and expressed
with an honesty and a passion of a sincere and genuine human being, to read just
the words and enjoy the illustrations is heartwarming even without any knowledge
of music whatsoever, but to see in ones minds eye the performance of any of
these songs and to remember the intensity of feelings that were stirred in ones
heart during one of his performances is pure pleasure indeed. (Albert
This is definitely the best song book for beginners and pros alike. Superbly laid out with all the words and chord progressions. Playing my first song in minutes. All I need now is a voice coach so I can sing half as good as AJ. (Dave Blenkinsop, Gran Canaria)
Stafford two years ago - we were waiting to see Fairport Convention. Then this softly spoken, fast talking, amusing man came on; funny yes and after his first song we were smitten. In the end you and Chris Lesley stole the evening for us. Your songs made us sit up, listening to each and every word, thinking about the tale behind those words. Now, nine Cds later and we still love your voice, your songs and the varied instrumental accompaniment. Irish songs, storytelling songs with an edge, songs of love and social comment on everyday life, we love them all. Your songs sung in your inimitable way are our favourites. Cover songs by you are enjoyable, but not in the same spirit as your own compositions.
Thanks for the entertainment AJC. (Chris and Jeya, Barnstaple, Devon)
I can’t remember who it was I went to the concert to see some 11 years ago but preceding that person was Anthony John Clarke.
Of course it was THAT song which made Anthony John stand out and stick in my mind, more so because at the time I was at college and a frequent attendee of a Karaoke night on Tuesdays.
Little did I know that in the future this man, who had me laughing my socks off one moment and stunned into silence the next with the supreme quality of his songs, emotive delivery and sparkling personality, would become a regular feature of my musical schedule and I’m glad to also say, a friend. When a person has so much to say in song and the songs that person shares are as good as those Anthony John shares with his many and varied audiences, why shouldn’t he put them in a book so that the rest of us mere mortals may try to emulate the feel good factor that radiates from a Anthony John Clarke gig.
So, here is that book.
Anthony John Clarke’s book of songs came to me as a birthday present; a well thought out present it was as had I not received it, it would have found its way into my collection anyway!
But this book of songs is not just limited to words and chord shapes, it tells a story and it is a story you want to be involved in; I’m sure some of you are whether it be in words, picture or quotation and even as a musician I found myself wanting to know the story before I had even picked up my guitar to try out some of the songs which, of course, are the reason for the book’s existence in the first place!
The book has been put together with love and feeling with no detail overlooked and after reading the book from cover to cover giving me, the reader, a sneaky peek into some excerpts of the life of Anthony John Clarke I didn’t know about before and trying out some of the songs to potentially share over the coming festival season (although a few guitar lessons would come in handy!) I feel that hearty congratulations are in order. You may not be able to replicate the feel good factor of an Anthony John Clarke gig in your own home but this book will certainly keep you going between fixes.
We come to be entertained; we stay because we get what we came for! (And then we do it all again somewhere down the road!) (Tina Taylor)
P.S. Is the cheque in the post?
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Hi Jimmy and Val. Congratulations on producing a superb web-site for AJC. As a now-retired ICT teacher I have some idea of what a good web-site should look like and I would have been happy to use this one as an example of good practice. (Ian Bruce)
Hi Jimmy and Val.
Not sure if you'll remember me, I saw you at Faldingworth a while back, and last October we (my singing partner Kathryn and I) supported Anthony John Clarke at Faldingworth. Anyway, just wanted to say well done on creating his new website, it looks great. I got a news letter and visited the site, and tested the songbook page by buying a copy, so now we can get the tunings right! Well done guys. hope to bump into you somewhere along the way. (Richard Langridge)
Great! I love the new website! Well done! (Claudine Le Moal)
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