Vikesh Kapoor

Vikesh Kapoor


“I dream away my morning”, Vikesh Kapoor sings on ‘I Dreamt Blues’ conjuring up an image of Alan Sillitoe’s protagonist from Saturday Night & Sunday Morning, Arthur Seaton slaving over his lathe at a bicycle factory dreaming of plotting an escape from his small town drudgery. In fact, this is what the whole album, The Ballad of Willy Robbins, is about; the narrative of a construction worker’s blue collar life, who faces troubles such as late wages, a failing marriage, broken dreams and insecure employment. The Portland-based folk singer might not be aware, but tonight he could not be in a more fitting place to play this album, the home of the industrial revolution and once the industrial factory of capitalism, where workers struggled every day.

Tonight though he is in the relatively comfortable surroundings of Gullivers back room for the first ever gig there were just 18 seats are laid out. When he arrives on the stage, he could not look less like the mason’s apprentice who stumbled across a newspaper article on a construction worker who could no longer ply his trade, after an injury. Maybe, just maybe he had a fag in his mouth when he read it. Tonight, though he is dressed in a tight suit and stands in front of a glitzy gold microphone which could not be further away from the grimy gritty world he sings about.

Tonight he records not just the story of a construction worker, but the story of all of us which he makes apparent in ‘Ode to my hometown’ when he recalls the worker’s efforts to ‘sing in my head’ to get through his day, something we can surely all relate to. ‘I Dreamt Blues’ is the most poignant retelling of the construction worker’s life, which recalls the monotony of his day, his ‘lonely climb up the scaffold’ which is sung by Vikesh in a moody, hoarse voice becoming more full sounding as the song comes to a close.

He then tells us that this album was made with the noble intentions of keeping peoples spirits up, before he does exactly that by covering ‘Mack the Knife’ which sees Vikesh lead a massive stomp along as the audience tap their feet against the wooden floor. This, at least, is in line with his swish gold microphone.

The album’s title track sees Vikesh at his most passionate, as he tells the story of a hard-faced foreman, a wife plotting an escape and economic insecurity. Despite this despair, tonight is a night of warmth and serenity as the folk vignettes light up or evening. Also, on an additional note there can finally be relief for Willy Robbins as though he may not have lived out his dream and struggled throughout his life just as many Mancunians did in the midst of the industrial revolution; his life was most definitely worthwhile.

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Paddy Kinsella

Hi all, my name is Paddy and I have a love for everything from African music to indie to house (basically anything other than heavy metal). Gigging and listening to albums are genuinely the things I most value and love doing.