It is a fine Saturday afternoon at the Green Note, the terrible weather of the last few days has subsided and for a change there is sunshine coming through the venues lantern. We are gathered for the launch of the new Vic Allen EP "Enough", a sizeable crowd was gathering well in advance of doors opening to gather a good spot for what was to be a stellar afternoon of entertainment from both Vic and her well chosen support acts in the shape of Abby Inez and Poppy Fardell.
It was Poppy who was to open proceedings, in her blue jean outfit and white boots. It's a first sighting of Poppy for the #TEAMw21 and only goes further to prove that there is no busier area on the UK Americana scene than the female singer songwriter sector. By the looks of things more normally to be found playing in the Exmouth area, this was a major leap up the ladder for Poppy to be playing a major London show and an opportunity that she grabbed with both hands.
Opening with her next single "Lose Myself In You", she immediately made in impact, delivering a song with an immediately engaging chorus, married with a confident guitar playing and singing style. Showing absolutely no sign of nerves she quickly built a natural rapport with the audience and looked remarkably at ease. Her second song "Things I Better Start" had something of a classic feel about it, dealing with the things you should probably do after a break up to move on, it had a number of captivating lines like the chorus lead in "I never did drink whiskey I don't like the aftertaste".
We always judge an act by the choice of their covers and naming your favourite Bob Dylan song as being "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" from "Blood On The Tracks. was an impressively bold statement. To then deliver a charming version only added to the esteem we were holding Poppy in.
The next song "Follow Me Down Too" a ballad with gently picked guitar was delivered with some aplomb Her short 5 song set closed with her current single "Hayley", a song you immediately wanted to hear again with its mysterious chorus "She's wanted and can never be found I heard she burnt her own house to the ground", with the title name of the chorus extended out over many syllables, this was impressive stuff. With the final chorus delivered with a loud impassioned vocal Poppy certainly left us on a high, reflecting on just how good an opening set she had just delivered.
Next up was an all to rare London appearance for Abby Inez, a firm #TEAMw21 favourite since the release of EP's way back in 2014/15. The inbetween years saw a teaming up with Cara Beard in the duo Darline but remarkably little in term of solo releases so it was great not only too see her back but armed with a batch of high quality new songs including a new single.
Playing with Joe Dolman ( on guitar, keys and backing vocals ) who has helped co write a lot of the new material, she owned the stage from the moment she took the microphone from the stand. Opening with "Rewind", she was a blur of hand gestures on a song full of snappily delivered lines like " I could win actress of the year for faking my own way out of here". With Joe contributing backing vocals on the chorus this was an immediately impressive start, with great vocals on allegedly her only happy song!
Her second song "Someone To Someone" , a piano ballad saw her intensely concentrating on her performance, for much of the song singing with her eyes closed. On an exquisitely delivered vocal this was something special and the song comes with a final pay off line that really made it something special.
Having seen Ingrid Andress only a week or so ago, one can only compliment Abby on her great choice of cover for the next song, "More Hearts Than Mine". It's a song that many, including Abby have found a universal truth in, and this version was certainly on a par with Ingrid, with Abby joining in on acoustic guitar allowing Joe to move to piano. The next song "Hurricane" started again with Joe on piano, and Abby with her blonde hair tumbling down already looking like she was a delivering a big successful smash hit. Dealing with the effects of someone coming in to your life all of a sudden, she said she was already excited about this song and with good reason on first listen.
Her set came to an end far too soon but did leave us on her great new single "Bridges", which had a delicate guitar intro, and saw some stage craft as took a little step away from the microphone to deliver the first chorus. This was an impressive big vocal on which to leave us, the line "Won't you walk back over me now" was delivered with great beauty. It was great to see her back and we are hoping for big things from Abby in the coming months.
For Vic Allen, this was not only an EP launch but her first time at the Green Note and her first date as a solo headliner and all of that came together in a performance that showed her at her absolute best, displaying a supreme level of confidence i'd not seen previously, that was great to witness.
With an additional guitarist and cajon player for company to the rear of that stage , Vic stood boldly at the front of stage,and took complete control of the proceedings. Her material over the last 2 years has been impeccably produced, this was to be a chance for Vic to demonstrate that the songs and her performances could transfer to a live environment and from the very first song "Enough" this was never in doubt.
The cajon intro, to "Enough", provided the percussion over which both Vic and guitarist laid down a lovely background which allowed Vic to deliver the most perfect of vocals, the sweetness of the line"it ain't enough for me" being a winner from the off. It was to be a trawl through all areas of her catalogue including some unreleased material in a set running for just under an hour. It was to her previous EP, for the title track "Bittersweet" that she went next, with additional backing vocals from the back of the stage setting things off perfectly, on this song about travelling and the people you meet and eventually have to leave.
The first new song of the afternoon was "Barcelona", a tale of a 2 day romance destined not to be, with a huge hook of a chorus that seems destined to be a firm favourite in future shows. For "Between The Lines" the band really worked at their best as an ensemble, and Vic's singing was beautifully controlled.
For a few songs, Vic then took to playing solo, a more familiar setting for her, the first of which was a premiere for everyone. "Healing" was another step forward in Vic's writing technique, slightly wordier perhaps than normal and anchored to a great chorus including a pay off line "I think I'm healing", this will be one to look out for when its released. The current single "Ghost Town" with all of its electronic trickery stripped away, saw Vic, like Abby before her, perform with her eyes closed intensely concentrating on both her singing and guitar picking. This song had a great deal of atmosphere generated and displayed Vic's ability to hold the attention of the audience who were completely spellbound, on this slightly slowed down version. The final track of the new EP, "Give Up", was the last offering of the solo set, seemingly born from a spell of self doubt.
With Danny & Ryan once again joining in, there was time for another unrecorded song "Drive Through" which has been part of Vic's set for a while. Perhaps it was habit, but even with a cajon player in the band Vic couldn't help but tap her guitar for an additional little bit of percussion, on this uptempo tune, with yet another immediately winning chorus.
There was a trip back to her very first EP for "When You Are Not Around", during which Vic displayed a lovely tone in her voice
The relationship that had started in "Drive Through" was then book ended by another song, "I Can", which was about the end of the same relationship, another faster song, Vic simply looked every inch the headliner as she played this perfect pop song.
The final song of the main set "Talk" saw a slightly faster take than the recorded version, with Vic having to recreate the word interplay of the original, which she did to great effect. There was naturally demand for a final song and "Quit" saw the trio rock out ( as much as they acoustically could) on the chorus, which was a perfectly wonderful way to end what had been a quite fantastic afternoon.
Vic Allen's EP is released 18th October and will join the Write Like a Girl tour throughout November
See link for details of dates https://www.facebook.com/pg/writelikeagirluk/events/
Abby Inez's single "Bridges" is available now
Poppy Fardell's single "Hayley" is available now