Panama Red at The Gladstone Arms, Borough ★★★★
‘When you closed your eyes, you could have been anywhere.’
THIS IS THE ESSENCE OF PANAMA RED. And the audience that packed out the downstairs of this hidden pub in the heart of Borough firmly shared this belief.
With pints in hand and Pieminster pies (worth a trip, even if it’s just for one of these) on every table, you would have rightly thought you were in a quiet London pub on a Tuesday. But as 9 o’clock struck and the lights went down, we were grabbed by the scruff of the neck and thrown into the middle of an Arizona evening, driving fast with the top down, aiming right for Hollywood.
Hollywood was the peak of Panama Red’s seven-song set; a catchy track that got the audience going, who loved every note, ever since the first string was plucked.
For forty-five minutes, Panama Red filled The Glad with a timeless, relaxed sound, created effortlessly by this quintet, whose vocals rolled off each other just as easily as each of their songs rolled into the next. Purple Bees was a fan favourite, with some demanding it twice. Regulars of The Glad seemed to enjoy hearing a band with a lap steel; Joe Harvey-Whyte caressed it with great panache, bringing a rich country sound to the end of every guitar riff.
The Glad has hosted big names in the past (Ellie Goulding, Noah and the Whale), and Panama Red certainly did not look out of place here. The venue is big enough to get a good crowd in, yet small enough to retain an intimacy between the audience and band. At intervals, Joe Harvey-Whyte asked after the fans, speaking between songs to involve the crowd who were more than happy to respond. Such a relaxed stage presence put everyone at ease – not only could you almost touch the band, you could almost certainly enjoy a pint with them after the gig.
One would-be fan remarked, “I’m here because I just love their name”. However, in their fifth live gig, Panama Red are quickly showing that there are several strings to their bow.
Panama Red are residents at The Glad every Tuesday this November:
For further updates check them out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/panamaredlondon?fref=ts