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  • Writer's pictureCHRIS FARLIE

Twinnie, Juna n Joey,Alyssa Bonagura - Omeara

One by one some of the most rescheduled shows of the pandemic have come to pass. Twinnie's UK tour has stopped at a number of destinations, squeezing in 2 support acts each night to provide a value for money package at each stop.

Alyssa Bonagura is exactly the sort of US country star that UK audiences take to their hearts. From the moment she took to the stage at a surprisingly packed Omeara, she showed that she had not just come to visit, she had become immersed in UK terms and culture.

Squeezing in one last show before heading back to the US from what has been a highly successful trip to the UK including a number of slots over the Buckle & Boots weekend

Wearing her hat, and armed with only an acoustic guitar she was able to generate quite a bit of volume and successfully got the evening rolling. Starting with

"Coming Off The Underground", a fast paced rocking tune, that she found time to slot in a line about the "London" underground even though the song wa snot related to it

Lockdown had given her time to write a batch of new songs and this slot provided an excellent to give a few an airing. The difficulties of a long distance relationship was covered in "The Other Side Of The World", which nicely contrasted what each person would be doing at the same time, while also painting the problems of separation. It does move to happy territory "where the miss you's turn to kiss you's" and was topped off with some excellent vocals.

While switching guitars Alyssa observed how quiet the totally engrossed crowd were, before playing her latest single , the uptempo "New Wings" with some strident guitar playing and lyrics full of observations from the covid enforced break. The next song came as a special request for Twinnie,the unreleased "Last Night In December", a heartbreak song full of recollections, almost half spoken as if in conversation and beautifully half sung the rest of the time, this was impressive stuff. Alyssa's short spot came to a close with "Just Drink About It" about a chance encounter in Greece. Immediately engaging, and managing to get the Omeara crowd singing along this was surely a hit in the making.

The next act sister and brother Juna n Joey had already been generating positive word of mouth before hitting London and a quick chat with them earlier in the afternoon had only piqued out interest further as to what they would be like live. Immensely likable off stage and within minutes it was clear to see that they were going to be great fun on stage.

Opening with a Parker McCollum song "Pretty Heart", a couple of things were immediately apparent, firstly even though both were playing acoustic guitar, the overall sound was filled out with a backing track - normally this might have seemed a little controversial but realistically with the conditions prevailing at the time, flying in a band was not really an option so the Omeara crowd was understandably forgiving. This started with Joey taking the lead vocals but as it progressed, Juna took to holding the mic with one hand to really concentrate as she provided supporting vocals. The sibling voices proved perfect foils for each other, Joey standing tall with a deep voice looked commanding and Juna now looking her sixteen years in size yet sounding much more mature ,

The night was to be an even split of covers and originals, and lead vocal duties would also be divided between the pair. For the next song "Boys & Boots" an original, Juna took the lead, this time she took off the guitar completely to once again hold the mic as she sung this bouncy piece of pop country with a high profile organ sound.

For the Harry Styles cover of "Watermelon Sugar" the two combined to make this much more of a duet. and Juna again showed she possessed a voice far beyond her 16 years. The news that the next song was to be their debut single "Too Good To Miss" provoked a "whoop" of excitement from the crowd already familiar with their work, and why not, it is a slick piece of pop country. It once again showed that individually they are great but that when singing together something magic happens,.

Their next single will be "To Your Heart" and Juna did a marvellous sales pitch that contained every possible detail about it! It was to prove to be a gentle ballad and was to be a lovely duet destined to cement their arrival on the UK scene for sure,receiving a huge round of applause.

Joey announced he was approving of the UK's drinking laws compared to the more stringent ones of Florida, as they launched into Runaway Junes "Buy My Own Drinks".

Another original "More Than Maybe" saw them both back playing guitars, and a light show of sorts giving another dimension on this catchy confident piece of pop, with Juna just occasionally glancing over to look at her brother as if to say "Can you believe this?" so well were things going.

Closing with a Luke Combs cover of "Lovin On You"

they endeared themselves by saying how much they liked our "shiny money" among other things. It saw them get the crowd clapping and singing along, even happy to forgive an out of tune guitar as Joey was to note at the end!

This surely should set them up for an appearance at next years C2C. They are great fun and definite future prospects and wonderful smart performers- keep an eye out for June n Joey !!

One imagines that Twinnie must have spent all of Lockdown visualising how this show was going to look and sound. After her shows at Indigo at C2C 2019 you might have wondered if things could shift up another gear and most definitely they could, this was all but an arena show transferred into tiny Omeara, with all of the full scale production values you might expect to see and hear. Her band all dressed in white and a big operatic intro set the stage for Twinne's arrival with big thumping drums.

When she arrived she ripped through the opening numbers at a furious pace as she went through her "Hollywood Gypsy" album. Things commenced with "Type Of Girl" with Twinnie taking to the stage in a sparkling outfit looking and sounding in amazing form. Donning an electric guitar for "More" the crowd were definitely in a party mood. and so was Twinnie finishing that song with a rousing "We made it!"

There was barely a gap for breath and we were into "Daddy Issues", this time Twinnie switching to acoustic guitar for the rollicking country number complete with backing vocals giving it a huge lift.

For those who've followed Twinnie for a while like #TEAMw21 it was nice to see "Cool" get revisited on "Hollywood Gypsy", always a classic tune. and deserving of a wider audience. Twinnie once on stage, already a consumate performer transforms into something bigger, an all round big time show girl,and for "Chasing" she found herself caressing the Omeara scenery and at times bending over literally singing in the faces of audience members.

This was an evening of classic pop country, "I Love You Now Change" was truly anthemic and saw the audience singing along with Twinnie even holding out the mic to the crowd. Twinnie confessed to being so emotional about tonights performance and with a little encouragement it led to Omeara being filled with the sight of waving arms on this big ballad.

Twinnie was so truly thankful that Omeara was full in these early days of emerging from lockdown when the same has not been true of all shows, as the audience gradually finds their appetite for live entertainment again. The title track of the "Hollywood Gypsy" album turned into a thunderous anthem, fit to tell Twinnie's story. By the time she finished she was so hot that she needed to wipe her brow on the stage curtain

Fresh back from Nashville with new material "Something Or Somebody" was exceptional with a great 60's vibe to it even on first listen, as Twinnie fired out lines.

Temporarily losing track of where she was in the set, she responded "Ooh I love this song" on being told that the next song was "Lie To Me" and for an evening of big sound, this ballad stripped back to piano and acoustic guitar showed just how good a singer Twinnie is, with some fantastically sustained notes, fully deserving the plethora of waving phones that all but reduced her to tears leaving her worrying about dripping mascara.

"Feeling Of Falling" saw Twinnie taking off her guitar halfway through the song to conduct the ground before subsequently revealing another new song "One Heart", complete with mood dancing and full on head swirling which with Twinnie's flowing locks is quite a sight. It once again found Twinnie to the possessor of another catchy tune, with the audience immediately clapping along.

Twinnie's showpiece of covering Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" retains its ability to hold the audience in the palm of her hand, reduced to a slow ballad singalong - Omeara was soon echoing to the sound of a crowd at full voice and Twinnie hitting some exceptionally high notes. From the sublime to the ridiculous with the all out onslaught that is "Better When I'm Drunk" complete with trademark high kick. The crowd were not to going to leave without one more song and "Social Babies" brought the curtain down on a quite spectacular night, it may have taken 18 months to materialise but it was truly worth the wait.




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