Two Ways Home / Abby Inez - The Half Moon Putney
Having not seen Abby Inez for some years, to be able to see her in different guises three times in as many weeks has been something of a bonus. First supporting Vic Allen with a guitarist in tow, then playing with Liv Austen at the recent Write Like A Girl gig and finally tonight supporting Two Ways Home playing solo.
Opening with a topical song "Wednesday", dealing with desperately waiting for the weekend, highlighted 2 of Abby's great vocal talents, the ability to put across a tender vulnerable vocal and the way she can deliver an almost angelic chorus. This was something of an opportunity to showcase some new material hopefully due for early 2020. The next new song was "Hurricane" already earmarked for being a future single and already sounding like one with its attention grabbing chorus. It noticeably saw Abby taking a step back after the first chorus to play a little flourish on her guitar. It was not all new songs though, and a well chosen cover in the shape of Danielle Bradbery's "Worth It" was delivered in a beautifully controlled manner in a delightfully stripped back version compared to the original. Two further new songs highlighted other aspects of Abby's songwriting, "Messy" had some quick fire lyrics detailing the contradictory nature of a relationship "You want me closer then you ask me for some space", with Abby perfectly capturing the confusion articulated in the song, while "Are You Happier Now?" was a nice take on thinking about former partners and what they might be doing. Abby's set was to close with her excellent current single "Bridges" - it was a reminder of just what a talent she is and it has been so good to see her back on the London circuit again. It was delivered to perfection and was worth it just to hear deliver the word "Crumble" so exquisitely!!
The first time #TEAMw21 ever saw Two Ways Home they were a full band at the inaugural Buckle and Boots festival, since then in various support slots or at their ever popular monthly Round Up or even their recent Cafe Nero tour, they have become pretty much become associated with just being a duo in many peoples minds and so tonights headliners immediately set about re-establishing themselves as a band by rattling off the first two numbers without any interaction with the audience at all "Better Together" and "Just For Now", the duo were beefed up with up a Chris Brice on drums, an addition guitar player, and a debutant bass player in Eleanor Riley. It was a high powered up tempo start with Isy on mandolin and tambourine respectively and Lewis on acoustic guitar, with the drumming giving a real sense of urgency and adding to a level of volume not normally associated with Two Ways Home.
By the third song things had settled somewhat, as Isy started the zither intro into "Still In Love" which really benefited from the big band sound, especially the bass and backing vocals which really gave it some drama. In an unexpected turn of events Lewis looked at Isy and said " Shall We do It?" before launching into a spirited cover of Don Henley's "Boys Of Summer", with Lewis taking the initial vocals before handing over a verse to guitarist Michael Clancy . When the four came together on vocals for the chorus they produced a powerful display. When Isy asked if something was burning, a wag from the audience shouted out "You're on Fire!!" such was the power being produced.
There was a switch to electric guitar for Lewis for the single "Outlaws" which also saw Isy's scene stealing mandolin become much more prominent and once again the four joining together on harmonies gave things a different dimension. With a new album due to land February next year this was a chance to preview some new material, including a brand new song "Prove Me Wrong" which had something of a funky bass line running through it as well as a Brothers Osborne style guitar solo - it'll be out in January and is sure to clear away any Christmas cobwebs. With Isy taking to using a hand held mic for the single "Speed Of Anything" the first section of the show came to a close.
The next part of the evening was inspired by the microphone that they'd first spotted at the same venue being used by the Chorlton Country Club, one of only three in existence, ( Bob Harris has the other one) it allowed for a group gathering. With drummer and bass player temporarily relieved of duties this section was to be much more acoustic based. It allowed Isy and Lewis to alternate lines of the verses across each other before coming together for the chorus of "Break The Silence" . With Michael throwing in a guitar solo, this was one of the stand out songs of the night.
All three would then gather closely around the microphone for "Don't Give Up On Me", beautifully simple, yet completely captivating. Strangely one of the songs that gets used to get the audience rowdy at the the Round Up, "Push & Pull" was delivered in something of a low key style, though the Half Moon crowd were still able to add their vocals as and when required, with some gentle cajoling of fellow entertainers Blue Highways, Vic Allen & O&O. The "quiet section" came to an end with "Better Days" , a song that gradually builds, initially starting with Lewis, then Isy and then both together, with the background instrumentation gradually built by the full band returning to the stage and turning it into something of a showpiece,
With the band now in full swing, it was straight into the stomp of "No Longer Mine", if anything the full band now louder than at any time of the evening and clearly loving it. The final section was something of a race of excellence to the finishing line, "Out On the Road", a classic piece of guitar driven country laying the background for some a great group vocal performance. The main set would close out on title track of their "Closest Stranger" EP, the band once again building to a fitting climax.
With a swift encore of "Best Part Of Me" to close out the evening, all those who had ventured south of the River Thames were amply rewarded with a final piece of hook driven country and a final rock out.
Two Ways Home Debut album will be released 28th February 2020