“Rock ‘n’ Roll” tongue-in-cheekily quips John Yates. We all chuckle - there’s not been a sniff of a clich all evening. By this stage, the set has been faithful to the opening of debut LP, ‘The First Album’, with ‘Noisy Insects’, ‘They Called For Us’ and (especially) ‘Augustus Golden’ taking all present on uplifting yet soul-searching journeys. We close our eyes and smile as a part of us cries. And therein lies Ella Guru’s best kept secret: the constant contradictions. With sixteen legs
and seemingly more instruments, there’s versatility aplenty, but simplicity is the key. These heavenly songs are dominated by the most sublime, withdrawn voices that have seemingly harmonised themselves since birth, yet not one shoe is ever gazed at (Kate Walsh in particular all heads-up as she melts gold and hearts with the voice to cry for). The overriding theme of the night is of a gathering of friends: talking through a few troubles, sharing the odd story and then perhaps throwing dessert at each other. There’s a big in-joke going on, but it’s OK as everyone’s involved.
‘I Got My Mojo Workin’’ soon arrives and gives us it all again (beauty, subtlety, humour, comfort - you’ve got the picture by now) in a few delightful minutes, yet you just know they could stand up and rock if they wanted to. But where’s the fun in that? To their immense credit, they continue to effortlessly keep us enchanted for the rest of the set without a hint of melodrama or pomposity. So thank a god of your choice that they’re not from Oxford. While you’re at it, best also thank that god that Ella Guru have it and give it. This is their Rock ‘n’ Roll, and it’s for all of us. Let’s just hope enough of us get to hear it.