Emma & Jolie - Buckle & Boots 2021 - The Main Stage
I think it is fair to say that the Lockdown has had a major effect on the early phase of Emma & Jolie's career. They've released three slick, well written and well produced singles however chances to really build up their stage craft have been limited. The few appearances we had seen previously were also more acoustically based and not requiring the big band backing and performance projection needed for a show like this - the Sunday morning hangover slot when people need to roused form the excesses of the previous night.
Their solutions to some of these issues was to recruit long time #TEAMw21 favourites Smith & Brewer to effectively control the backing sound while Emma & Jolie's outfits ensured that the photographers pit was full of snappers for much longer than usual.
Things started off as planned with the band providing a suitably grand intro to their debut single "I Don't Need A Man" and while Emma's vocals came out normally, Jolie's were so swamped in echo that she did well to continue and the fact that they then went to virtually non existent was equally off putting, the key thing was that they kept going.
There were a couple of clues that this was an unfamiliar setting for the duo, their endearing habit of mouthing each others lines even when they weren't singing is surely due their lack of gig practice as was the gentle reminder of "You start it" passed on from Jolie to Emma as they were about to launch into their second tune which opened to some GoGo's like riffing, only to morph into Taylor Swift's "Blank Space".
It was good fun and got a great reception from the bleary eyed audience.
They pointed out the irony of having a song called "I Don't Need A Man" while having a backing band full of men and then somewhat earlier than usual decided to introduce the band. Whether by nerves or excitement they then started to talk across each other and the phrase "toxic ex boyfriends" got used far too often.
With no Josh Kerr around to help out on the vocals for "How Do I Choose?" those duties fell to Jolie. With Ben Smith contributing some key pedal steel guitar lines this was this was definitely a glimpse into what a polished Emma & Jolie can deliver, with both delivering quality vocals needlessly apologizing at the end for not quite having Josh's timbre where really no apology was required.
There was a dramatic riff heavy opening to "I Do" matched to a pounding back beat, cut through once again by Ben's pedal steel. It all provided a great backing for what will surely be a future single at some point, it certainly suited Emma & Jolie's style perfectly.
"Pink Lemonade" was enlivened by Ben's funky guitar work, already a crowd favourite, it was another tune that pointed a bright future for Emma & Jolie. Closing with their next single "All That Glitters", complete with banjo, this was another tune that came with a snappy pop beat and even included a crowd interaction section.
As Emma & Jolie left the stage the band enjoyed one last mad bit of musicality, which had them all smiling. So admittedly there is still some work to be done, but with the live circuit hopefully starting to open up, Emma & Jolie just need to get out there and get playing and gradually their stage craft will fall into place. The important thing is that at their core they have a batch of solid sounding songs that should see them do well in the long term.