The "Heroes & Heroines" tour has seen Jade Helliwell be supported primarily by Gina Larner and at each stop along the way a second support act, to make each night very much value for money in these cash strapped times. Tonight it would be Chloe Chadwick picking up the third slot playing London for the first time in absolute ages at the iconic 100 Club, it's walls festooned with pictures of the great and the good who have graced its stage over the years.
After having been quiet for quite a while, 2023 has seen something of a renaissance for Chloe Chadwick, first pouring her emotions into her recent excellent "Same Old Brand New Me" EP, secondly she is about to eclipse even that with a storming new single. She would take to the stage a little after eight which would later prove to be a costly few minutes but it did not prevent her from getting the evening off to a flying start. She would immediately dip into the aforementioned EP, with "Rattling Bones", one of the darker songs from the EP - "You're so cruel" being a key repeated line. Chloe would keep up an intense strum, her eyes mainly firmly closed as she detailed events of an abusive partner.
With so much new material to choose from, it was a surprise when she announced she would dip into the archive taking us back to her debut EP for "Never Change". It would be a change to a more gentle style of playing, for a tale of someone on the end of serial cheating. It would see Chloe throw in a big key change and really deliver on what she revealed to be the first country song that she ever wrote.
Another visit to the darker side of the new EP would come with "Temper Gene", the current single - with Chloe once again providing a forceful strum on the powerful chorus while providing a matching vocal delivery, building to a big extended note to close with. It was at this point that the minutes lost at the start came home to roost - with Chloe feeling she only had time to squeeze one more song in when she'd have probably liked to have played two. In a set that started great and got better with each song, she closed out with the forthcoming single "Shoot To Run".
In this stripped back format it still sounded like a big country pop single with Chloe giving it everything in both her playing and her vocals. It was short and sweet but a definiiee delight to see her once again.
Next up would be Gina Larner, quite possibly the first artist #TEAMw21 has seen get a round of applause for their admittedly impressive boots. She would use a laptop to occasionally assist with the overall sound adding some backing vocals or strings - I'm sure it was intended to add to the listeners overall enjoyment filling out the sound - I'm not 100% it totally worked - more from the aspect that am not sure if it was really needed - Gina was a fairly compelling presence in her own right.
It certainly added strings and additional backing vocals on the opening song "Ask Me" but then Gina was doing a great job already with powerful vocals that soared and swooped.as she pleaded
"If you wanted me to stay - just ask me"
Gina would build a great rapport with the crowd, her second song the title track of her album "Something Good" - The first line delivered a capella the rest delivered at times as a powerful vocal tour de force while at others, like the closing lines almost quiet and vulnerable - all very impressive.
It would then be straight into "Let Me See What I Can Do" - another combination of fast guitar playing and powerful extended notes, that all but shook the walls, as they were almost shouted such was the force.
A new song, planned for a 2024 release, "Sin" was possibly Gina's most Americana sounding of the night - it saw her guitar take a pounding and once again an intriguing vocal. The final three songs would be three singles, the first "Whiskey" written when at Uni. It would see Gina pull her earplug out, her delivery at times almost conversational, it made her a figure that demanded your attention.
It was on "I Think I Love You" that perhaps it was questionable if the tech was needed - Gina pretty much drowned it out anyway on this stirring anthemic declaration of devotion. Either way it was another stand out moment in an outstanding set!
Gina would close out with a bit of uptempo country in "Heavy Heart" - it typified the set, powerful playing matched to boisterous singing - more shows like this will surely see her scooping fans up as she goes - surely one to watch for 2024""
It has been a while since we last caught Jade Helliwell in action, and in that time she has amassed quite the selection of banging tunes. Her style of singing has also definitely matured and it definitely made for a better show. With her other half Luke Thomas sterling providing sterling support on guitar and with her drummer having just married Laura Oakes who was also part of the band providing acoustic guitar and backing vocals - they billed themselves as the "Country Abba!". The band would start up first allowing Jade to take to the stage in a showbiz style.
Opening to "Woman I Am" she would immediately work the stage, prowling holding the mic in hand, the chorus a chance to provide the punchy pop vocal she is known for. Moving straight on she would don a red guitar and dive straight into the slower aced "Drive" with the one syllable elongated out for 8 seconds or so in an controlled extended note.
The big country tunes kept coming, "Smoke Without a Fire" with it's crowd chant element saw Jade being serenaded by the assembled crowd! Luke would throw in a searing solo to top things off.
Jade would then move onto a Laura Oakes song, "If I Were You", this would show another style to Jade, the lyrics of the verses quite wordy, tumbled out of mouth in a more quiet measured style, The chorus left room for the big vocal and the combination worked really well. Another sing not written by Jade would follow with "Drink This Wine" which was lifted further by Luke and Laura adding excellent backing vocals..
Acknowledging some of her older material there was room for "I Have A Good Life" from the "Forget The Night" EP, a true bit of "Yeehah" on the night before moving straight into the pure country pop of "Never Learn" which would have some fearsome vocals,
from the same EP, though sadly there was not time for our personal favourite the title track on the night. The pop of "Boom Tick" would then complete the end of the first part of the show which would see the band leave the stage.
This section of the show really highlighted a totally different facet to Jade. The intro to "Telephone" was personal and heartfelt as you could tell from the impassioned delivery which she just about held together. It was a special moment on the night.
Moving totally solo she would then play "How Love Goes". The section would end with a slowed down "Over The Rainbow" which would be Jade's Judy Garland moment.
The final section would be a twenty minute band section, opening with "Lead Me On" which would see her return to more familiar ground, with big guitar and drum sounds along with Jade firing out the lyrics in a rapid fire style. There was a similar sassy style of delivery on "Undercover" which would see Jade drop to one knee.
There was almost a rap style of delivery for the verse of "Stormchaser" which led into the more familiar power chorus. The show would naturally close out with the title track of the tour "Heroes & Heroines" paying tribute to those people who might otherwise fly under the radar. It has a storming chorus perfectly suited for Jade and would end with her punching the air with a farewell salute. It would bring to an end a most complete evening of entertainment, thoroughly enjoyable and great value for money.