Hard Rock Country Emma Swindells, Sam Coe & The Long Shadows, Lars Pluto, Jack & Ella, The A


It's back to the Hard Rock Cafe for the #TEAMw21team to get through another packed evening of entertainment. The acts tonight are split between four playing acoustically and 3 playing electric with full bands. In a bid to avoid last months late night overrun things were kept extremely tight and were run with military precision. The only negative aspect of the evening being the amount of background noise, with the bar in such close proximity to the stage it's an unfortunate repercussion, more so of course for the acoustic acts.

First act of the night Roni (Perry) who some may recall from Buckle & Boots, who opened with "Ricochet" from her "See You Around Baby" cd, which she would return to for much of her material. This was probably not the best environment in which to enjoy Roni, there was plenty of effort given but songs like "Home" and her song inspired by Elvis Presley "Gravity" needed a more attentive audience to be fully enjoyed. Her finest moment came with the closing song "See You Around Baby" which came with a more immediate chorus.

As if to prove just how difficult it was as a a solo acoustic act, Kerri Watt armed with a batch of songs that could normally win over the most hard hearted listener still had a little trouble singing above the general hubbub. It did not stop her putting in a great set for the many that were listening though. Kicking off with "Paris" with its uptempo chorus and audience engaging chorus, this was a stop off for Kerri who was in the process of moving back to Glasgow. It was followed by the excellent "She Said" for her Mum. Having just got accustomed to seeing Kerri back on the London gig circuit again it'll be a shame to lose her once again, the hypnotic chorus of last years single "Old School Love" being an example of the sort of thing that we'll be missing out on. This was followed up with a piece of pure pop "Who's Loving Me Now?" again with an opportunity for the audience to join in. It was at this point that Kerri attempted a much quieter song, "The Wandering Kind" came with an excellent back story in that when it eventually surfaces as a recording it will have Ben Earle on backing vocals, however with audience noise showing no sign of abating a compromise was found by the sound man upping Kerri's vocal to 11, which did take a little away from the song although it allowed us to hear it unhindered. For those that saw Jeff Cohen at his Songwriter Rounds last year, the next song "Hey Love" was the one he had nearly seen recorded by a number of people including The Band Perry, it now has a home as Kerri has covered it, it comes with seemingly a zillion hooks and went down very well. It closed a short excellent set that deserved greater attention from the wider audience.

Of the acoustic acts, the one that fared best unsurprisingly were the Adelaides who were able to generate some volume. They opened with "Jack Daniels Is My Only Friend" one of the highlight songs from the previous incarnation of the band.and followed it up with "Painkiller". and "I'd Do It Again" with their unique style ( at least for country music ) of constantly changing lead vocalists every verse, although personally I found the real strength in the band was when all three of them sung in unison as they did on the chorus of the slower song "No Survivors". . They must have played some odd shows recently as they seemed truly relieved to hear the audience say that they had heard of Maren Morris's "My Church" which did not seem much of an ask, so they must have been well chuffed to get an audience singalong. "Wreckless" came with an intriguing introduction and seemed a strong song on first listen and for a while the Adelaides were more of a latter day Wilson Phillips. There was another audience participation element for "Pull The Trigger" though this seemed a bit tacked on and almost took away from what was already a great song while "Jellybaby" is a better song than needing to be introduced as being a being "a bit rude", I would just let the audience work it out for themselves. They already seem to be collecting some devout admirers and these are still quite early days for the Adelaides who certainly have something about them. Closing with a cover of the Pistol Annies "Hell On Heels" gave an indication of the heights they are hoping to scale.

Jack & Ella followed and when they hit form such as with their opening song "Hometown" showed great promise, while their best song was the EP Leftover "Can't Be Me" which saw Ella take the microphone from its stand and wander to the front of the stage as she sang. They then followed things up with the first song they ever wrote "Nowhere To Be" which had a raw charm, and maybe a touch of the early Shires sound about it.

It was at this point that things took off in a strange direction as the duo then decide to plug their respective forthcoming solo projects. Ella's song "Ready For The Fall" was slightly slower and came with a great vocal performance, Jack's song "I Carry You" was finished that very day, and was probably premiered on the wrong occasion, with the background noise not helping for what was clearly a deeply personal song.

Things closed out in fine form with.the uptempo title track of their EP "Are You Ready?"