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  • Writer's pictureCHRIS FARLIE

Girls Night In with Kezia Gill, Jess Thristan, Demi Marriner & Jade Helliwell - Bush Hall

It's easy to see why the "Girls Night In" tour was such a hit with the performers, it allows you to hit the road reasonable soon after your normal tour has finished, it lets you try out new stuff and you get to spend all of the time with your best buddies. The tour opened with a date in London at Bush Hall with 4 luminaries of the UK Americana female scene , in Kezia Gill, Jess Thristan, Demi Marriner and Jade Helliwell - each would bring their own slightly different take on things, in an evening that would squeeze in a value for money 26 songs - as well as some chat - well actually quite a bit of chat - which at times could have done with subtitles to let us know what what was going on!

Kezia would kick off the evening, fresh from collecting a brace of awards the previous night. Of the performers on show she undoubtedly was the most Americana sounding. With a big year in prospect as she tries to break the glass ceiling into the mainstream, there were outings for "Whiskey Over Ice", a visit to the archives for "Mr Cash" revealed to hav been written in 10 minutes and the Brandy Clarkish delivery on the third song during which Jade would point her guitar into the crowd like a rifle before pretending to fire to the line

"You'd bring a shovel and a gun" if Kezia found her man cheating!!

Jess Thristan would offer fare from the more pop country end of the spectrum - her opening selections "The Old Me", "Worse Than Me" a Kaity Rae co write and the saucy "Nothing But The Radio On" a Jade song full of hooks and a cracking chorus providing fine entertainment,

Demi Marriner musically if not literally was somewhere between Kezia and Jess on the night. Opening with the Americana sound of "Sins" from her excellent new album "The Things We Didn't Say". Her other tunes the smart adult pop of "Distorted Desires" also from the album, while. her final tune of the first half "Miss You When You're Here" was to be the start of an excellent batch of new tunes.

The final seat on the night was taken up by Jade Helliwell, with a batch of fine blockbusting country tunes, who in the first half looked to be itching to jump up, grab the mic and perform standing up yet remained resolutely seated. Her selection of songs included the title track of her EP - "Woman I Am", with backing vocals from all on stage, "Undercover" with it's rapid fire delivery and "How Long Have You Known?" which would be a duet with. Kezia

The first half would close with Jess's new single, a dark slowed down take on "Jolene" which she would start a capella before handing the baton over for each of the performers to take a line or 2 - The real magic would occur on the chorus where the harmonies would come together and produce something quite magical. As people headed to the bar during the interval one lady passed by #TEAMw21 with the immortal phrase "I need to take in what I've just seen" such was the presence and power of that final tune.

The second half of the evening was broken down into 3 more clearly defined rounds, each producing some real top quality stand out moments. The opening round of the second half was the "Cry In Your Wine" round and it would live up to its billing. Kezia naturally started things off, and regaled us with a poignant tale about her Dad before launching into "Local Man's Star" - as a tribute it could not have been more fitting - there would be tears all round and it has to be said that Jess looked more than a little daunted at having to follow it. As it turned out, she had a song that perfectly matched the tone of the round, "Things We Remember" was all the more powerful because of the story around the initial inspiration. and then the observations drawn from it. The power of a song was really shown during this round with Demi remarking that "I'm too vulnerable for this! - This is intense"", before her own contribution - "Lonely" which kept the handkerchief quotient up on the night - with a dramatic opening

"Am I sad because I'm lonely, am I lonely because I'm sad?

I don't want to tell nobody, I don't want no-one to feel bad

Do I hate the house I live in - or does it just not feel like home

While I'm sad and I'm lonely - and I'm sad that I'm alone"

to be followed later by a line that is devastating on all sorts of levels

"There's a sadness in the silence and there's power in the quiet too

I'd rather be sad that I'm lonely, than be lonely living with you!"

The juxtaposition between the contents of the lyrics and the beauty with which they were sung was most affecting.

Any hope that Jade would lighten the mood disappeared when she unveiled "Telephone" her song that perfectly taps into the universal feeling of loss, once again made all the more affecting for those keenly observed personal details and the perfect heartfelt delivery..

Kezia would kick start things back into life with the rootsy "Straight Into A Nashville Song" - which had Kezia replaying fictional events inspired by a visit to Nashville - it instantly activated the Bush Hall crowd into clapping along. Jess would follow with the sassy "Woman Up", a rallying cry for the female half of the species which was a suitably anthemic power song. Demi would prove to be equally sassy on her next song "Good Guy Act" which would see Kezia add some additional guitar and Jade some percussion by hitting her guitar.  It would see Demi fire out lyrics, fast and furious with a degree of venom and in common with the rest of the round a degree of power. Jade would close out the round with her own anthem, her tribute to everyday "Heroes & Heroines" making the round as inspiring as the previous had been emotional.

The final round would be unrecorded round, as ever Kezia would start with the rip roaring "Money In The Bank" another rootsy sounding effort, with Kezia's accent adopting a transatlantic twang, With strident guitar playing and a full on vocal this seems destined to be playing out on Festival stages across the summer.

Jess would purvey some punchy pop with "Future Tripping" , her first truly solo effort in 5 years and surely a single in waiting - immediately catchy and ready to be worked up into a full band effort. Demi would play "Think Of Me", another powerful combination of words and music - it may have taken Demi 4 years to make her last album but on the strength of the material displayed tonight, she need not leave it so long next time! The final song of the round would see Jade unleash a Paris Adams co write - "Bad Habits" with an introduction that drew gasps the assembled crowd! A powerful snappy song that you'll imagine both will be wanting to record at the earliest opportunity.

The final tune of the evening would once again see all four performers combine to make magic - it did make you wish that perhaps a whole round could have been dedicated to four songs from this UK Supergroup! Their take on Kelsea Ballerini's "If You Go Down ( I'm Going Down To" was sublime - It had the crowd dancing in the aisles and undoubtedly the power of the 4 voices and the fact they seemed to gel together so well was a truly inspiring moment.

A definite celebration of females in UK Country Music.




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