Gig Review: Jonny Kerry at Peggy's Skylight

Words: Iulia Matei
Photos: Martin Makowski
Tuesday 03 October 2023
reading time: min, words

If you are lusting for warm evenings in a quaint bustling Italian town in the middle of summer, then look no further - Jonny Kerry and his band can take you there...

Jonny Kerry 010

A world-renowned jazz artist, Jonny has earned recognition as a singer-songwriter pianist and accordionist and his mission is to make the accordion cool again. As far as I’m concerned, he’s got me hooked!

Jonny draws inspiration from a diverse range of music genres, including soul, blues and European folk music. What better place to experience such a unique performance than Peggy’s Skylight, in the heart of Nottingham. With its dimmed, warm lighting, Middle-Eastern menu and intimate set-up, the music lived in unison with the venue and its audience. The intimacy was only heightened by Jonny’s charming chats and jokes made with the crowd.

Jonny Kerry 006

The night started slow and mysterious, with the sound of the grand piano and Jonny’s voice setting the mood for the evening ahead. It wasn’t long before the infamous accordion made its appearance though. This weighty, tricky-to-master instrument with its keys, bellows and reeds rendered the most charming and playful sounds in Jonny’s hands. It’s such a hard instrument to master, but the Lincolnshire-based bandleader admitted in an interview that he loves a challenge. "I’ve always liked things that are a bit different, and fell in love with the sound and history of the instrument."

Jonny Kerry 026

Castelfidardo, from the album with the same name (released in 2021), was a particularly joyful track - a delicious flurry of accordion and guitar that inevitably put a spring in everyone’s step. The guitarist and bassist were such a delight to watch, with their smiles at both their own music, and each other. It was then followed by something I’ve never experienced before and I now absolutely want more of.

The band unplugged all their instruments, stepped off the stage, walked amongst the crowd, and played the next song without any amplifiers. They wanted to - in their own words - "let you hear the instruments as they are meant to be heard." You can see the love and passion they have for their craft, for the music and for the artistry that goes into creating and perfecting instruments and sound. It was such a special moment, a level of intimacy with music that you don’t get very often.

Jonny Kerry 011
Jonny Kerry 020

The warm atmosphere was preserved with beautiful renditions of the jazz standard Night and Day and later a soulful rendition of Edith Piaf’s classic La Vie En Rose, to which that accordion again provided welcome richness alongside impassioned vocals. Kerry’s interpretations of well-known songs were thoughtful and clearly rooted in reverence, not least demonstrated by a fantastic version of Bob Dylan’s timeless Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, sung here with tenderness punctuated with sensitive instrumentation.

Jonny Kerry 028

That instrumentation was impressive throughout, with the complex chords and scales of jazz guitar accentuated beautifully by a remarkably clean tone and impeccable playing, shining alongside deft percussion and gorgeous piano. The star of the show however was of course the accordion, its surprising versatility on full display as it bathed Peggy’s Skylight in a Mediterranean atmosphere so believable that it was a surprise not to be greeted by the countryside of Tuscany when leaving.

As the night drew to a close, the appreciative crowd called for an encore; a glowing endorsement of the show they’d been treated to. It was confirmation of the quality of the music that had filled the room and that Jonny’s inspirations and style makes him one of the most unique and original jazz artists of his generation in the UK.

Jonny Kerry performed at Peggy's Skylight on 29 September 2023.

Jonny Kerry 019

We have a favour to ask

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion

Please note, we migrated all recently used accounts to the new site, but you will need to request a password reset

Sign in using

Or using your

Forgot password?

Register an account

Password must be at least 8 characters long, have 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase, 1 number and 1 special character.

Forgotten your password?

Reset your password?

Password must be at least 8 characters long, have 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase, 1 number and 1 special character.