Lisa Wright Band / Clara Bond The Islington
An entertaining night in aid of a good cause was to be had at The Islington with proceeds going to the Huntington's Disease Association! . The evening opened with a short set from Mark Newnam who as well as performing gave us a little background on the disease.
At last years Buckle & Boots Clara Bond's set with her band was one of the highlights, tonight it was just her and her guitarist Ollie Harris In this stripped back format her songs seemed to reveal their country origins. Opening with "Tambourine" she impressively sold the song with exquisite vocals and expressive hand gestures. From there it was to the perfect pop of "Love Can't Stay". Anyone that tweets that "Rumours" is the greatest album of all time gets a thumbs up in our book and Clara's version of "Dreams" certainly showed signs of her channelling her inner Steve Nicks. This song tends to get covered by many people these days but that was one of the finest i've heard in a while and it was great to see Clara smile at the spontaneous audience participation! Her versatility seemed to show no limits whether it was the heartfelt balladry of "Flashbacks" or the sassy delivery of "Does Your Girlfriend Know You're Single". As a bonus we got to see a duet on Maren Morris's "I Could Use A Love Song" with Liv Austen who earlier had been singing along on "Tambourine" from the audience. It was a lovely moment seeing all three people on stage singing in great harmony. There could only be one closing song the gloriously catchy "Out Of Towners". There will be a chance to catch more of Clara Bond at this years C2C - it will be a must see!!
It was a first sighting for us of Lisa Wright with her band, so at first a little adjustment was required getting used to hearing songs with a full band that you had heard many times previously solo. Things were not helped by the drum kit at the Islington which can tend to overpower the sound and leads to everybody having to play overly loud, so while "Rising Strong" fared okay,I did find the subtlety of "Before I Die" got slightly lost in the proceedings.
Things worked much better on the new material "Smile Of Mine" from Lisa's next ep with it's funky opening, sounded all the better for the drummer taking a quieter role. The next song saw the band leave the stage and saw Lisa deliver the song of the evening, "Giving Up The Ghost" was made all the more moving with the back story it came with as well as the sheer emotional honesty in the writing and the delicacy in the delivery. She continued solo for "Waiting For Rain" before we got a chance to see just how good the band could be with their contributions to "In The End" where they really helped the sound build up as the song developed. There was another new song in the promising poppiness of "Tennessee" due out in March. The set closed with "Back To You" which again worked well in the band format before the evening ended with an encore of "Why Would I Wanna" with mass audience contribution.
With over £700 raised for the Huntington's Disease Association - well done to all involved in what was a highly entertaining night.