Rosalie Cunningham @Newcastle Trillians 11.09.23

When it comes to captivating an audience with a compelling narrative and capricious melody, Rosalie Cunningham has long since cornered the market.

The former Purson frontwoman’s reputation for casting an hypnotic spell over a powerless audience precedes her.

And yet forewarned is hardly forearmed where this most enchanting of performers is concerned.

Once Cunningham’s caught your eye — and your ear — resistance is futile.

Her retro-fuelled shows are like some kind of ethereal dream space, out of time and beyond the norm.

Soothing flourishes of psych, prog and heavy blues recall a rock and roll tradition far removed from the desperately cold digital media age.

And it’s reassuring to be reminded of an era when ambition, creativity and an artistic connection with fans trumped AI-generated, auto-tuned fatuity.

Flanked by like-minded souls with a common flair for the flamboyant, Cunningham conjured a short but incredibly sweet set founded on an overriding sense of freedom.

There were the Purson deep cuts — Tempest And The Tide plus set closer Chocolate Money — the solo favourites and, in the case of the relatively raucous Rabbit Foot, a glimpse of the future.

According to Cunningham that future includes two new records in 2024. Just let that sink in, for a moment.

Cunningham’s cunning plan

Releasing new material and retaining the current iteration of her fabulous band might finally be the catalyst for the critical acclaim this unique singer songwriter surely deserves.

Nobody is doing what Cunningham’s doing right now: at least not with the same degree of self-belief, authenticity and teasing charm.

In bass player/flautist Claudia Gonzalez Diaz, there’s a kindred spirit bursting with eye-catching pomp.

And Cunningham’s partner Rosco Wilson guarantees a necessary groove and swagger as the band’s über-cool guitarist, co-vocalist and lead ‘shaker’.

A deliciously dark take on Dethroning Of The Party Queen preceded the vibey delights of Donovan Ellington, Donny, Pt. Two and Duet.

And through it all the crazed keys of Aaron Bolli-Thompson provided an enigmatic platform of pure extravagance.

To his credit, drummer Bo Walsh somehow kept the show on the road just when it looked like his band mates were lost on another meandering musical sojourn.

In truth, a modest Trillians crowd wouldn’t have complained if a joyous journey had gone on long into the Tyneside night. 

The final chimes of Chocolate Money arrived far too soon but the vociferous acclaim was richly deserved.

This was pound for pound the most absorbing rock show of the year.

Main image by Howard Rankin.