Jarrod Dickenson, Cariad Harmon, Swan Levitt - St Pancras Old Church
It’s remarkably freeing going to a gig where you don’t really know much of the artist’s work. You have no pre-conceptions, no hopes that a certain track will be played, no concerns over the set-list or the support acts. So when TEAMw21 offers you a ticket because they are literally stretched across the globe - what’s the worst that could happen? If that gig is also taking place in a venue you’ve never been to before then that can only add to the adventure; and so it was that I found myself standing outside one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in the country on damp Wednesday evening in October. St Pancras Old Church is a quaint fairly small venue with all the acoustics you would expect from a church building. With a number of rows of seats to the front with a standing area available at the back the space lends itself well to an acoustic trio of musicians.
Kicking off with Swan Levitt, seated on a rather grand chair and with acoustic guitar in hand we were treated to a short set of his original songs. With a very folk feel to the music, think Seth Lakeman, Swan’s vocal style and range suited the venue well. With a guitar style alternating between strummed and plucked notes and some interesting lyrics this was an entertaining start to the evening. To give you some indication of the range of songs we had "Singularity"a metaphor for a woman he once knew; "Say Your Name", for a friend who died; and quirkily "You Were Human", a sci-fi inspired song!
Cariad Harmon met Jarrod while working in New York, although she originally hails from Acton, West London Her vocal style can at times almost be likened to spoken word/prose set to music, so it was hardly a surprise that the only cover she included in her set was a Bob Dylan track. Taking her inspiration from her life in New York, including the dating scene, Cariad delivered a powerful sound in a relatively small space. With a couple of albums available and a sound reminiscent of Gretchen Peters, she’s definitely worth further investigation.
On to the main event and Jarrod Dickenson, ably accompanied by his wife Claire. Jarrod is tall, deep-voiced, amiable Texan whose latest album, "Ready The Horses", has just been released on Decca records. With his guitar playing through an amp on stage his songs have an insistent beat and buzz to the backing that wraps you up in the music. Beginning with "Faint of Heart", the opening track on the album, the show rushed by interspersed with a number of anecdotes and jokes. The setting gave the show a slightly hushed atmosphere which I think threw him at first, with the audience hanging on every word or note. "Take It From Me" was a cleverly written take on a domestic argument, made all the more interesting with his wife on backing vocals. "California" was a more upbeat track and we even had a song so new it was too late to make it on to the record. I loved the slightly ‘more sinister’ (his words) sound of "Gold Rush", ostensibly about just that, but clearly a metaphor for Wall Street and it was interspersed with a jangly guitar sound. Beth Rowley joined Jarrod on stage for a couple of songs, including an inevitable (for a Texan) cowboy song. Dispensing with an encore, by advising us that there was only 1 track remaining, or 3 if you included the final 2 was an interesting touch, much like his closing track a cover of George Michael’s "Faith". My favourite part of the show, the beautiful duet with his wife "Your Heart Belongs To Me". If you do nothing more I suggest that you go and find that song online and give it a listen!