A much easier drive into Liverpool this time, although seeing the gritting lorries on the road at 4 in the afternoon doesn't fill you with confidence for the drive home. Few bottles of Magners (isn't that becoming a new tradition) down the throat, nice £8.50 all you can eat Chinese buffet (loving the deep-fried crab sticks) and then it was once again a mighty difficult task to find a car-parking space anywhere near the Liverpool Academy venue.
Still at least on this occasion we were closer than we were for FLC. Got to the venue in plenty of time and so for the second time in a week we managed to catch the support act. Now if that had been a mistake on Monday night, it was a huge stroke of luck on this occasion. Not that Duke Special looked up to much as he wandered on stage, but it didn't take long for me to rememeber that old adage "never judge a book by it's cover." I shall definately be checking them out when their headline tour hits the North West.
And so then it was onto Gemma herself...or at least it was once a multitude of technical problems were sorted (of a fashion mind you; the problems seemed to resurface throughout the night). She also apologised for having a bad cold, but to be honest, it's not something you would have noticed as she performed with the vim and vigour of someone 100% healthy.
There really wasn't a duff track in the set. Whether it was the slightly more edgy, rockier tracks from her first album or the more introspective cuts from her latest album, everything was done with aplomb. Highlights included Back Of My Hand (my favourite Gemma Track), forthcoming single Undercover or the Reckless Eric cover Whole Wild Word. However it's not just rocking out with the band where Gemma excels. Her solo rendition of Evening Sun (even with the "I'm going to kill that fucking snare" incident) was proof that Gemma really is a talent.
Other British/Irish female singer-songwriters may sell more records but, and whisper this quietly, Gemma may be the best of the bunch. Nights like this certainly make you think so.