Morganway, Eddy Smith & The 507, Lisa Canny - 229 The Venue
Something of a night of expectation as three of Talentbanq's most solid performers came together to make one explosive evening, celebrating the companies 2nd birthday. Each of the acts had previously shone at the smaller 229 sister venue but tonight it was to be a chance to showcase in front of a 600+ crowd.
First act of the night was Lisa Canny who took to the stage with a tilting harp, a three piece band and a backing singer and probably took most peoples preconceptions of what was about to come and ripped them up with a display of a myriad of genres in the space of 35 minutes.
Lisa did well to cope with a couple of early hiccups, first of all some microphone issues and then her planned looping effect not initially going to plan. She announced herself with a lovely angelic flourish on the harp, leading into the opening verse of the song synonymous with Nina Simone. "Feeling Good", from there the percussion was to be created by banging on the harp, followed by a looped vocal line but it was not to be. Irrespective she ploughed on into a furiously speedily delivered rap before eventually returning to the original song, it was certainly like nothing else we've seen in a long time.
From there Lisa moved to a banjo and with the drummer kicked off a frantically mad opening that rarely subsequently let up. With either Lisa's vocal or her her banjo playing seemingly at 100 mph on "Freedom", backing vocals only added to the madness this was highly engaging toe tapping stuff!. Lisa in all way seemed larger than life, from her stage gear to her natural bonhomie with the crowd.
Keeping us on our toes, her next song "Crash" dipped into another genre and took us down a very soulful avenue, which she delivered with some aplomb and even found room for a little funky bass solo and the first audience singalong of the evening.
The next song "Run Back To You" co written with Tony Moore once of Iron Maiden saw things slow a little, initially just Lisa, her harp and some backing vocals, gradually joined by the piano before the band eventually fully kicked in taking the song into something of a more tradition Irish direction. With a "1 2 3 4.." things took another turn with Lisa starting things with a bit of a tribal call for "Shed You Like a Snakeskin" which was then carried through into the chorus accentuated by her backing vocalist.
From there naturally it was to a section of traditional tunes, "The Jewish Reels", that was set at a pace somewhere north of furious and saw a large degree of crowd participation as well as Lisa coming to the front of the stage with her banjo like a rock guitarist with some suitably individual poses. Closing the set with "Raggle Taggle Gypsy" which started as more of a gentle Irish folk tune before the rev counter was hit and once again we were hanging on as Lisa and her band built to a frantic climax. It was certainly unique and her time on stage flew by.
Sandwiched between Lisa Canny and Morganway there was always fear that in comparison Eddy Smith & The 507 would seem a little static especially with main man Eddy stuck centre stage behind his keyboard, so they had to make up for it by generating more of a wall of sound with their 2 keyboards and twin guitars.
They opened big with "Minnesota" perhaps more of southern soul rocker than the Chicago blues, their introduction had promised but it made for a powerful opening statement, Eddy possessing a deep white soul voice. Things certainly turned bluesier with Ashley Webb's harmonic intro into "Lost On You" which also saw some exceptional rhythm guitar work from Ricky O'Donnell. Eddy was to switch to guitar for "Middle Of Nowhere", which slowed things down a bit with Eddy's head slightly shaking from side to side as he powered out the vocals on the chorus.
It was back to their very first song for "Strangers ( Since I've Been Loving You)" and the classic blues influences really started to shine through. Their single of 2019, "It Don't Feel Much Like Livin'" followed, once again lifted by the harmonica and some funky guitar work.
As they launched into "A Little Too Late" the title track of their second EP, Eddy has something reminiscent of Bob Seger about him in terms of voice. A sign of confidence was to close out their set with a new song, possibly banking on the fact that most of these songs would be new to much of the crowd, "The Good Times", made the most of the bands harmonies and ended with something of a rocking finale as they sped up the tempo considerably.
There's has recently been a lot of fuss about Storms Ciara and Dennis but the real Storm that should have been making headlines is Storm Morganway which hit landfall last week in Cambridge and has been ripping up venues up and down the country ever since. By the looks of things 2019 was just a taster for how good this band are to going to get as they have started 2020 with a batch of new tunes, and even more polished showmanship showing on each song, from a band that always have more going on than anyone can take in at first glance.
Before the show there was a nice touch with drummer Ed giving each of the band a pre show hug and then after a typically ebullient and prophetic introduction from Talentbanq's Ray Jones, it was down to business. Sporting a somewhat different lay out to normal, bass, guitar and keyboards were located in a triangle to the left hand side of the stage, leaving fiddle player Nicole on her own to the right and SJ centre stage as normal.
The opening two songs the attention grabbing "Devil's Canyon" and "My Love Ain't Gonna Save You", immediately established the bands credentials, SJ's giving the official Morganway tambourine a hell of a beating while laying down her fearsome vocals, Nicole and Kieran driving the bands distinctive fiddle and guitar sound behind Ed's solid backbeat, with Matt and Callum completing the sound with keys, bass and everyone bar Ed supplying backing vocals.
There was a London debut for a new song "The Man", which has been well received on the current tour and it was easy to see why, as it built in intensity, volume and pace, there were enough hooks on this tune alone to fill at least three songs. With the pace ever increasing there was only one place to go and that was the rowdiness of "Let Me Go", with Kieran's searing guitar lines and Nicole's fiddle intricacies literally coming face to face in a "Devil Comes Down To Georgia" style shoot out!! Add to that the high octane vocal finale which all went to make a breathtaking barn storming performance. With time pressing there was no room to wait and it saw them launch straight into "You Can Only Die Once", the subtlety of the mid performance break perhaps difficult to pull off in a venue this size - you'll just have to take my word that on the tour it has brought venues to pin dropping silence.
The Morganway "Ho Ha"singalong of "Across This Land" continues to become an ever growing favourite, with so many different elements to absorb within its four minutes. All of this frenzy had led up to the epic "Frozen In Our Time" and ideally would have signalled the home straight into "London Life" and "Hurricane", however time constraints sadly meant that the former had to be sacrificed. As if to make up for it "Hurricane" came with even more unstoppable force, SJ became a blur as her hair was thrown in all directions by the power of head shaking, the solos of each band member, Matt's key piano line, and once again Nicole and Kieran trading musical blows, even saw Ray Jones break out into an irresistible dance off stage. As Ed brought the show to an end after SJ's final blistering note - it was another excellent night for the team.
Lisa Canny will return to London headlining at the Jazz Cafe on 7th October
Eddy Smith & The 507 will return to London at the 100 Club on 26th May
Morganway are currently touring the UK but will appear next in London at the Half Moon on Apr 24th for an afternoon show.