With this being his third visit to Stoke on Trent, Willy Porter is certainly no longer a stranger in these parts but this show promised an extra something special with him being accompanied this year by the fabulous Carmen Nickerson and a near full house was gathered in anticipation of another fabulous night of music and fun.
Opening the show for Willy & Carmen was a young singer songwriter by the name of John Dhali, formerly of The Potteries but now residing in Manchester. Having recently seen John ourselves, we were unsurprised at how the Fulford audience warmed to his quirky style and heart felt, self penned lyrics. It may well be worth remembering his name because John has a raw but exciting talent which is just waiting to be discovered.
Anyone following our website may have seen John's brilliantly funny promotional video for 'Only one' and they will have particularly enjoyed the stripped down version which he played before closing his short set, to rapturous applause, with another upbeat tune 'This little dance'.
Possibly the nicest compliment of the night was paid by Willy Porter who gave a shout out to John and asked if he would remember him and Carmen if he needed an opening act in a few years time ... high praise indeed but thoroughly merited.
Introducing Carmen to the Fulford audience, Willy jokingly said that he'd been struggling to convince her what a great time he'd been having over here in the last few years. Carmen smiled and responded by saying how much she'd been looking forward to coming over and asked if the sunny weather we'd been having that week was typical of what us Brits expect.
Opening the set with an old favourite, 'This Train', Carmen eased herself into Willy's repertoire before taking the lead on 'Echo of Love' from the new Bonfire to Ash album. As the set progressed, the artistic chemistry between Willy and Carmen grew stronger and it was clear that Carmen was not going to let Willy upstage her in the comical banter between songs.
Having played across the UK in the past with such noted artists as Tori Amos and Jethro Tull, Willy has been steadily building a strong fan base and in the audience were folk who had travelled considerable distance to see him.
During the interval, Willy and Carmen came out to meet their fans and sign CD's. A number of people remarked upon how amazing it was to see artists of their quality at such close quarters in a small village hall and the warmth and friendliness of the audiences in Stoke is something that Willy always comments upon when he has played here.
The second, longer set featured more new material off the BTA album but again, it was another old favourite 'How to rob a bank' that raised the biggest cheer of the night before Willy & Carmen brought the evening to a close with 'Human Kindness' and another new song 'Sign'.
The pair then took time out to meet and greet their audience one last time before saying their goodbyes and heading south for a few well earned days rest before resuming their UK tour at 'The Green Note' in London.