• Words Chris Farlie Photography Colin Jones

Liv Austen, Natalie Shay, Sophie Kilburn The Bedford Balham


Always pleasure to return the Bedford one of London's better venues whose stage has been graced by many a famous performer in the formative parts of their career. Even more amazingly the cost of entry for the show was merely to be silent while the acts were playing.

Tonight's event seemed to be a showcase for 3 female singer songwriters and first to the stage was Sophie Kilburn from Derbyshire. I'm slightly loathe to try and pigeonhole Sophie into a genre, as although songs like the opener "Emergency" for a large part could possibly have been considered folk, other bits including a slightly speeded up section seemed a more soulful.The slightly dreamy new song "Liable" had some interesting lyrics, while her cover of Foster The People's "Pumped Up Kicks" found something that I struggled to hear in the original and was hugely enjoyable, There were two songs that really stood out "Call Home" with its sad mantra "People mustn't know i'm lonely", while the "sassy" "Indigo Fever" induced the assembled mass to join in on the chorus as a singalong. It also had such a nagging insistent tune that found I found myself spending alarming amounts of the next day listening to it!

Natalie Shay took to the stage next with an additional guitarist for company who helped beef up the sound. She would prove to be both a photographers dream and nightmare in that she gave a zillion different opportunities via either facial expression or her hair flowing as she shook her head while at the same time being such a live wire she rarely seemed to stay still for long enough. Normally to be found fronting an energetic pop combo this performance returned things back to their acoustic roots but Natalie was to have a surprise or two up her sleeve for us.

Opening with her latest single, "This Feeling" with the additional guitarist picking out key accompanying rhythm she delivered a bouncy piece of pure pop music. She played with a smile and an unabashed enthusiasm that was hard not to admire. For "Waiting At The End", there was some nice use of loop pedals to enable her to provide her own backing vocals, while during the slower song "I Know You" she seemed to make eye contact with nearly everyone in the room throughout the song.

Another of her singles "And They Stare" was uptempo and again made use of looping to make an impressive sound.. "Love Can Be Replaced" had some very neat wordplay in an attention grabbing song, while the final song "Meet Me In The Middle" gave us one last burst of effects and a final surprise in that this assured confident performance was from a 19 year old.

2018 promises to be a big year for Liv Austen, with a debut album due hopefully anytime soon, tonight was a preview of what we can expect to see and hear throughout the year.. Appearing with a full band, of drums, guitar, bass, keyboards and fiddle this was hopefully a representation of how the songs will end up appearing when the album is eventually released.

"Part Time Sweetheart" started things in impressive style, a high intensity pop sound with a guitar sound reminiscent of The Cars "My Best Friends Girl" which is something i've not heard for a while. It was followed by the breezy "Train Of Thought" and a first ever live performance of "Want Him More".. Liv, as ever looking immaculate and sounding confident seems totally ready for whatever success this year brings.

The full bands sound transformed some of the songs that we had heard previously only heard played solo, "Miss Nobody" looks likely to become a firm fan favourite, while the violin sound on "Detour" fills it out and immediately gives it that additional gravitas, allowing it to build up into a full band ballad.

Closing with the perfect pop of "The Next Time" and the best version I've heard yet of "Don't Regret A Single One", it certainly whetted the appetite for what is to come.

#LivAusten #NatalieShay #SophieKilburn

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