WLAG - Vic Allen, Emily Faye, Beth Keeping, Liv Austen Charlotte Campbell & Katie Coleman
The Write Like a Girl bandwagon continues to gather momentum with another full house, this time at its new location the Water Rats. Such is its gravitational pull that it seems to be able to pull in more artists and audience with each show - in fact the eagle eyed might have spotted Lauren Ray, a talented singer in her own right checking tickets on arrival . In a crowd packed with various recognizable faces there was one person who would have such a bearing on the nights proceedings that we'll start off by giving them a mention even though they will not play or sing a note all evening. Without Kaity Rae, a large chunk of the evening would not have been written and Vic Allen's latest EP would have been bereft of a Producer, so hats off to her and let's hope one day we can see her on stage at one of these events.
It was to be something of an end of year extravaganza, with 25 songs spread across 2 sets, with the core team Vic Allen, Emily Faye and Beth Keeping taking over the second half of the evening, after handing over the first half to Liv Austen, Charlotte Campbell and Katie Coleman . Each artist brought something slightly different to the performance, with the second half just edging it with a greater degree of interaction, the sort that comes when you have played together so many times before but make no mistake both halves were absolutely top drawer entertainment.
Vic Allen still riding high on the back of her excellent headlining Green Note EP launch continues to be compelling in a live environment.
Her whole demeanor oozes confidence, her guitar playing and singing have moved to a whole new level and it is Vic who will open each round in the second half. Starting with "Enough", with its sumptuous chorus, which had some additional backing vocals and a solo from Danny - got things off to a great start. Her second song of the evening was an unrecorded song, that had been so powerful at the Green Note show, "I Can", the title being a somewhat harsh realisation that the end of a relationship was not going to be something that she could not get over.
Round Three saw Vic open with another unreleased song "Healing", already vying to be another Vic classic, it's full of deliciously wordy verses attached to the most exquisite of choruses - the beauty of that pay off line "I Think I'm Healing" being simply brilliant, accentuated by a quite lovely vocal. Vic's final contribution of the evening seemed to come around far too quickly, "Talk" came with it's classic quirky chorus to which Beth added some additional vocals to fill out the sound even more.
"I love that song" cried out an audience member on its completion - that was the effect it had.
Second in the round was Emily Faye, it's been a little while since we last caught up with Emily but seemingly in the blink of an eye she seems to have become one of the UK's most mainstream Countryish singers. Her opening tune "Leaving Looks Good On You" written by three Nashville songwriters had everything that you could possibly hope for in a country song.
Returning a favour from Monday night, where Jake Morell had performed an Emily co-write when he was supporting Lindsay Ell, Emily chose to play a Jake Morell co write that was completed with Sue McMillan. "Looking For A Real Thing" once again vocally reinforced her country credentials, with this nicely wordy song establishing a great narrative.
Emily's third contribution was currently untitled but we'll go for "Grow Through", for now. An outstanding performance on the night, full of emotion, vulnerability, with different volumes of vocal giving the song some real drama. Closing out her contributions for the evening, Emily got the crowd into a singing mood with some backing "doo doo's" on "Sucks To Be You". Another great performance with some great stagecraft displayed - we'll definitely need to catch up with Emily again really soon.
Final place in the Round went to Beth Keeping, who opened with "Strangers In The Same City", bringing out the beauty of her chorus in this tale of dating in the not so big city, and also pointing out that dilemma "I'm scared I'll see you I'm scared that I won't". For the second round Beth unveiled a new song "2 Seats Down" with a hilarious back story of meeting an ex who used to be so close at of all places a wedding. A song packed with narrative and observation, the sort of song that only country artists seem to attempt, truly absorbing and the Water Rats was deadly quiet even as Beth's vocal dropped to barely a whisper. Beth's songs always seem to come with such great back stories, and "San Francisco" was no different. By her own admission, it is difficult to play live due to it going quite high, but it didn't take away from it being a catchy tune that manged to elicit a singalong from the assembled crowd, which is surely a testament to a good song.
Beth closed out the main show with her final song "Building Bridges in The Dance Floor", another testimony to the power of song to heal
A simply fantastic evening, brought to an end with a group take on one of Beth's songs "No Hard Feelings", with everyone having part to play including the audience who provided a rhythm section,
The evening had begun with a completely separate Round with another three artists each given the chance to play four songs. Long term #TEAMw21 favourite Liv Austen took the pole position of starting each round with guitarist Jon Wright in tow. Making up the round were two new faces to #TEAMw21, Charlotte Campbell, often to be found under the London Eye apparently and Katie Coleman making her debut at an "In The Round" event.
Last time we saw Liv Austen she was rocking out at the Long Road even dropping in an expletive filled cover!! No expletives tonight in this stripped back performance, which would show some of her recent material in completely new light. Sporting a huge pair of earrings, Liv's opening song "Whole Heart" was transformed by being played in this setting, the lyrics brought right to the fore in this moving version with Jon Wright also providing backing vocals as well as guitar lines. The lack of additional backing meant that Liv's vocal sounded even more heartfelt than usual.
Charlotte Campbell opened with "Nothing", sung as an almost folky pop song,selling the pluses of taking time out with someone to do nothing. She was even willing to tempt fate with an early singalong that was immediately rewarded with the Water Rats crowd finding their voices early in the proceedings. Katie Coleman immediately announced herself as something different and not just because of her northern accent, her guitar style was a little jazzy and her vocals would probably be the most powerful of the night although with great power comes great responsibility! The opening song "Catching Feelings" would be an example of that, as the urge to occasionally go off in an X Factor direction was at times a little distracting on what was a great song.
The second round gave Liv a chance to perform a stripped back reworking of last years single "Window Shopping". Somehow it seemed take on more gravitas in this format with the wordplay more prominent.
Charlotte who possibly slightly nervous, would speak at a 100 mph throughout and seemed a lot calmer when actually singing! Her song about being good to yourself "Sparkle", had an almost spoken vocal, once again over a slightly folky tune. Katie Coleman closed Round Two, with "No Good", about loving the wrong man while at the same time liking a bit of a bad boy, delivered in a soulful manner with some cheeky quickfire lyrics.
For Round 3 - Liv shared her slot by inviting Abby Inez to the stage to join in on a song that they co wrote - "Bridges". a slightly improvised version matching Abby's breathy vulnerable vocal against Liv's silky smooth effort went to make a great combination - simply brilliant. Charlotte skillfully linked the previous song about "Bridges" to her next song "Safe Harbour", built on a delicately played guitar line, this was Charlotte's best song of the night, reflecting on it being better to have taken a chance than to wonder "What if?". Charlotte's ability to conjure up an audience singalong seems unparalleled - this time eliciting audience harmonies without even asking for them. Katie chose to give a live debut for her next song "You Turn Me Around" about the love of her parents for each other, once again showing just how natural and soulful her voice was, and this time a more restrained vocal brought out her best performance so far.
The final round saw Liv serve up her defining song, a piece of "Classic Austen", one that is strong in whichever format it appears, "Don't Regret A Single One" gave a chance to Liv to act out some of the lines as she sang. Charlotte's closing contribution was a last minute change inspired by Katie's previous offering, "Over Again" was about her grandparents love, the sentiments perfectly captured, with Charlotte able to find a perfect melody to accompany it. Closing the first half of the show, Katie Coleman closed on an uptempo song "Not Your Pin Up Girl", with the lyrics delivered in rapid style, and of all her songs this had the least vocal theatrics added and yet lost none of its power and was far the better for it.
WLAG returns to the Camden Chapel 9th January with Devon Mayson & Poppy Fardell - buy your tickets quick - as it is sure to sell out.