JOHN Kelly is a remarkable individual. His body may be wrecked, but he is one of the most positive and life-affirming performers this reviewer has seen for many a moon.

By definition a folk-punk protest singer, he is a lifelong campaigner for disabled rights, was heavily involved with the 2012 London Paralympics Homecoming event at Wembley, has worked with the Extraordinary Bodies circus company and is, essentially, Billy Bragg in a wheelchair.

Born in London of Irish descent, Kelly was already on stage when the doors to the Sherling Studio opened, greeting the small and increasingly enthusiastic audience in person.

He is positioned behind a desk full of gadgets at the centre of a trio (rather than his full band) with long-term collaborators, 12-string guitarist Dave del Cid to his right and saxophonist, flautist and ukulele player Helen Bryer on his left.

He plays a bespoke ‘Kellycaster’ guitar, an adapted instrument using the body of a Fender Telecaster copy as an interface for computer software, allowing him to strum real guitar strings in the traditional way, while using an iPad app to control chords and notes, as well as switch control over augmented chords.

With all good folkies, there is a story behind every song that needs telling and Kelly is no different, regaling us with family tales and his travails that have formulated his work.

He trawled his album Better Late Than Never – finally laid down in September of last year after more than three decades of playing live – for a number of tracks, including Nobody Sings About My Heroes, Which Side Are You On, Winds Of Change and Killing The Blues, a song made famous by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

Other highlights included Spancil Hill, Choices & Rights, Can’t Be Right and Bryers’ solo spot Magic.

It goes without saying that he also channels his inner Ian Dury with aplomb – he even portrayed the late, great Lord of Upminster in the Graeae Theatre Company’s production of ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ and has worked with the likes of Chaz Jankel. Here he carried off Clever Trevor spectacularly well.

He kept the best for last, encoring with Battle of Whitehall, in which the line ‘you got to chain yourself to the buses’ was based on lived experience of civil disobedience, and also has a killer, catchy chorus. Also, it’s possibly the only protest song in history to namecheck Lady Olga Maitland.

Kelly is passionate about his causes, funny with it and exudes a warmth rarely seen on stage these days.

A Q&A after the set revealed more of his background and inspirations and we went off into the night clutching a lucky shamrock handed out by Kelly’s manager/factotum Pickles.