SaraBeth and Glen Mitchell kicked off their latest UK tour in the revamped Water Rats. As ever to keep things fresh the format of the show has changed, two years ago it incorporated an additional bass player, last year it was a full on band spectacular whereas this year it is to be just the two of them in a free form, set list free extravaganza. Each night promises to be unique although it would be safe to assume that each will deliver on the songs you love, a selection of covers, some new material being aired for the first time and an array of stories always entertaining with some possibly unrepeatable.
The Water Rats, provided the right atmosphere for the show with a selection of chairs and tables at the front, with standing room at the back, it was also exceedingly hot. SaraBeth kicked the main event off with “Rose Garden” the classic Lynn Anderson song hit and immediately the template for the evening was set, in that with only Glen’s acoustic guitar as backing, the focus then falls back on the singer and the lyrics of the song.
SaraBeth’s version breathed new life into the song highlighting the line “love shouldn't be so melancholy” which I’d not particularly noticed before.Another feature of the evening was the audience keeping Glen well lubricated, which may have contributed to the Springsteen like duration of the set, but for the curfew and the rest of the tour we might all still be at the Water Rats.
As mentioned earlier the set was free form with SaraBeth taking the lead for a couple of songs and then Glen doing two and occasionally both singing together.Highlights from SaraBeth mainly came from the songs that do not have the big production, “Nowhere With You” was excellent with a reprise at the end so that the audience could contribute extra “Na Na”s on the chorus. One of a number of new songs “Something About It” had the feel of a punchy pop song, while the vocals on “Slow” were among the best of the night. Another of the new SaraBeth songs “Get It Like The First Time” suggested that the next release may well be her best yet. Having mentioned the big production numbers, some were transformed by the scaled down performance “Windshield Rearview” in particular sounded better than ever.
Glen revelled in the chance to not only “Be English but be Essex”, as well turning in some of the best vocals I’ve seen over the last few tours, the cover of Vince Gill’s “Look At Us” was something to behold while the new song “You Remembered My Name”, deeply personal and as Glen himself said “still a little raw” was possibly the moment of the whole evening, simply a bravura performance.
The evening swung for high emotion to moments that left the viewer stunned for words. No-one who was there will surely forget “Girl Scout Cookie Monster” with its “Yum Yum Yum Yum” refrain!!, though somehow in the context of the evening it seemed to fit. The show had commenced with a short, and by the looks of it rare, impromptu set from London songwriter Beth Keeping, who has been writing with Glen and SaraBeth. Her songs were exceptionally well received, the three song set including “Naked” and “Last First Everything” have left us eager to hear her debut EP