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  • Writer's pictureCHRIS FARLIE


When an artist has fans follow her across Europe from Germany to the UK to see her at multiple C2C's then it is a fair indication that you are going to witness something special. So it was to prove on undoubtedly one of the stand out sets of the whole weekend, in the unlikely setting of a stage set up on the first floor of the O2, among an array of posh if somewhat under utilised shopping outlets where the staff more often than not outnumbered the customers.

There was no real inkling of what brilliance was to come as Zandi Holup, a petite blonde lady in a long green dress took to the stage. She would have an additional guitarist,though #TEAMw21 could not describe a single detail about him, so total was the magnetic grip that Zandi held on our attention. With her stories and her vocal skills she would deliver a truly jaw dropping set with a batch of songs that immediately made you want to find out more about her. The songs raw, emotional and hard hitting sung with a definite earthy twang made an immediate impact. The contrast between the brutality in the storytelling and the huge smiles Zandi provided between songs was also a stunning feature of the performance.

Zandi would open with "Gas Station Flowers" the song that immediately brought her to our attention and from the opening line of

"I'll take you drunk, I'll take you stoned" she would hold the audience trasnfixed.

The opening verse, almost spoken a capella, gave way to an intricate picking guitar style and a voice that lingered over every little bit of detail in the rich lyrics. that would break your heart as sang

"Those Gas Station Flowers are better than being alone"

The hard hitting spoken bridge section, just made everything seem even more vivid than it already was

"I could hide your shoes, I could hide your keys

But, I know that you’ll always find a way to leave

I’ll be the welcome mat you need, to wipe all that bullshit off your feet"

Zandi would finish the song with a big smile and a "Thank you so much" instantly dissipating the world she had just created before settling herself down to verbally create another one equally as intense.

"Runs In The Family" was for "those who have a crazy family that you still love" though you'd have to go some with Zandi to be able to compete:

"The apple didn't fall far from the tree - i guess it runs in the family"

Zandi would go on to regale us with stories of her family, which were not sugar coated by any means, she would intrigue us immensely by laying down a chorus like below

"I've got Daddy's temper and his heart of gold

I'm an overspender and from what I'm told

I got my Momma's lips and anxiety

All the things she tried to fix

So the irony is that it runs in the family"

only to follow it up with an angelically sung "Do do do" section.

The Icon stage can be a bustle of people walking past however for Zandi's time with us everything seemed to go pin drop silent. Next up was another slice of life that you would need to made of stone to not be affected by. The opening verse had Zandi waiting for her father at the schools Third Grade Daddy Daughter dance, while he was at home with a beer. It all leads to the killing pay off line

"All the things you don't remember are the things I'll never forget".

She would gently sway from side to side as sung each heartbreaking line - with the song ending with her drunk Dad crashing the car and Zandi telling him to "leave and don't come back"

The more that Zandi revealed, the more fascinating she became - none more so than on "Dirty Wings" which came with the line

"If you think I'm a saint - You'll find that I ain't!"

It's an admission of misdemeanours in her past - once again Zandi had you contrasting the person singing the song in fornt of you with the details being described and pondering as to how this could be!

"My history is part of me - I've done some F**ked up things

I could be your angel if you could love these dirty wings"

Lyrically there was so much more to take in than we could scribble down but it was clever stuff.

The pace would slow slightly for "He's A Mountain Man" another beautifully descriptive song where Zandi's whole frame would seem to shake as she sang the words of the chorus.

From the Mountain Man it was over to "No Man's Land" a cunning play on words for it is about a place

"Where my heart can't get broke"

With notes beautifully picked out during an instrumental section, this was another compelling listen

"Where you'll never find me"


Zandi would put her guitar down for the next song, "Karma", and would use the new found freedom for her hands to artistically express the song like a latter day Kate Bush. she would preface the song with line

"In the end we sow what we reap"

Her guitarist would then move into a more uptempo delivery, and Zandi would deliver her lines at some pace.

"Her name was Karma and heartbreak was a bitch"

Zandi would take the microphone from its stand and all of a sudden the ICON Stage crowd were clapping along as requested - with Zandi ending by saying "That was fun!".

Not all of the heartbreaking stories were Zandi's - "Mary Jane" dealt with the heroin addiction of someone who is now recovered but once shot through Zandi's songwriting prism, the darker side of addiction was brought home in clear detail, as she told his story in her own inimitable way - it was naturally as gritty and addictive as the subject matter, not sugar coated in anyway. - "Life of the party to barely alive"

The final song "Wild Flower" came with the welcome news that Zandi Holup would soon return to these shores for The Black Deer Festival. It naturally came with another heartbreaking story from her childhood and how that had affected her in later life

"I'm still the weird girl, I still don't make friends with the cool kids - I have never been cool"

Can't help but feel that the tide may soon be about to change with regard to Zandi not being cool.

Like the rest of the set "Wild Flower" came with a delicate turn of phrase and was full of the tiny little details that make her songs so special.

"I was never dainty like a rose or sunny like a marigold

I was made for the meadow in the cracks of rocks or fences by the road

I don't belong in a vase siting pretty on a windowsill

As I'm the lily of the Valley alone upon the hill."

Undoubtedly a definite talent - Zandi Holup is one to watch whose career is certainly going to blossom!


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