Ward Thomas, CC Smugglers & Hattie Briggs - Brooklyn Bowl
This has been a superb year for Hattie Briggs, from releasing one of the stand out records of the year in “Young Runaway” to successfully touring the UK and the US. As she took the stage with just cello player Jasmine Scott-Neale for company she took another huge step forward with a superb performance. Opening with “On Your Way”, her crystal clear voice and gentle guitar picking won over a new set of fans instantly. This was followed with “Old Eyes” dedicated to an “old friend”, without mentioning that the old friend had four legs.
Hattie has repeatedly stated her admiration for Eva Cassidy, and could probably have taken the safe option with “Fields Of Gold” but top marks for choosing “Autumn Leaves” playing it with some jazzy reverb on the vocals, the last few notes exquisitely delivered. She smiled as she introduced the only sad song on her album “Castles In the Sand” while she manouvered around the stage to get to the piano.
There then followed a lovely story about how “A New York Winter’s Day” had come to be commissioned and then somewhat sheepishly she asked if anyone was live streaming as a potential cat had been let out of the bag early. It was a beautiful song that will star on her forthcoming Christmas EP. The final song was another commissioned piece “Time” another beautiful piece, and then seemingly seconds after she had walked on stage she was gone, it flew by that quickly.
It was a first time for us to see the CC Smugglers and it is safe to say once seen they are hard to forget for a number of reasons, chiefly being their habit of reminding everyone after every song that they were the CC Smugglers!!. When they joined the stage to a thumping drum beat there was little clue as to what was about to be unleashed, but as soon as they launched into “Shake Shuffle and Move” you could not help but get caught up in the good time vibe.
It was an aural attack the likes of which we have not seen for some time, instruments and vocals seemed to be coming at us from all directions. Quite how you describe songs like “Good Day” is a mystery, there’s a touch of ragtime, a touch of revivalist gospel all played with unbounded enthusiasm. There was an outing for songs off their EP from earlier in the year, such as “Lydia” which saw the band both spinning in circles and down on their knees.
They’ve made it to Radio 2 and gave their new single an airing of the infectious “Rhythm”. It was 8 songs in before they decided to let the pace slow a little with a song possibly called “All Night Long” before finishing with “Working Man” that even included a bit of a Russian polka. They could be written off as being just a good time party band, I remember saying the same thing about Madness and it never did them any harm, they are certainly a sight worth seeing.