An exceptionally strong bill assembled for the vinyl launch of Kate Ellis’s excellent “Carve Me Out” record, only 250 of these little beauties in existence of what is an amazing batch of tunes captured beautifully.
Strangely for someone that we’ve seen five or six times over the summer, this is the first time that we’ve seen Kaity perform standing up! The one constant in all the shows has been the increase in confidence that comes from repeated gigging brings From the very opener “Red Dress” she seemed to exude confidence building a real rapport with the crowd. She has also amassed a lovely batch of as yet unrecorded songs, the Jess Sharman co-written “Spare Room” sounded even better for being delivered standing up for some reason, and the Liv Austen co-written “When It Sinks In” also sounded strong.
The quality of the song writing continued through into “Up In Smoke”, which painted a picture with very detailed images, while the ace in the pack remains “Somebody Else’s Problem” which if I’m not mistaken was also delivered with a little acting in terms of facial expressions as she sung. That confidence and rapport was to once again come to the fore with the closing song “Growing Up” with an audience singalong, always a potential minefield but it was pulled off with aplomb.This was a future headliner performance without a doubt and if the recorded version of “Somebody Else’s Problem” can capture the spirit of the live version, I’ll eat my hat if that does not have her headlining sooner rather than later.
Last time we saw them, we may have made a slight remark about the appearance of Ben Smith and Jimmy Brewer so happy to report this time round they were neatly coiffured and styled by the malls of Nashville, and very smart they looked too! One thing that has not changed is the top notch quality of their performance. About to tour with Graham Gouldman of 10CC, booked in for Midwinterfest 2018, and just back from Nashville, a fact that they may have mentioned occasionally, things are on the up for the harmonic duo.
There is lots to enjoy in a Ben and Jimmy set, we were immediately taken with “Another Shade Of Blue” with Jimmy’s almost Spanish guitar solo, while the pathos of “Lovely Day To Do Nothing” with food “delivered in boxes I forget to throw away” gets us every time. With a sound that is paradoxically both fresh and retro they are enormous fun to watch and marvel at as both their respective vocals and guitar playing interact. They still play seated “one thing at a time!”, but they have now relegated their “hit”, “Isabella” to later in the set after previously seemingly throwing it away as opener, on advice from their recent US jaunt. The closing song, the up tempo “Don’t Say You Don’t Love Me” almost had touches of Sonny Curtis and Buddy Holly about it while remaining definitively theirs.
It's been a while since we’ve seen Lisa Wright who has been away treading the boards, so perhaps a little gig rustiness was to be expected. It certainly does not help when you are trying to perform an acoustic set while the Islington’s AC units are blowing out the equivalent of Hurricane Irma. Things started with an excellent “Rising Strong” and a superb“Back To You” which really emphasised how much she’s been missed. Not wishing to suggest Lisa has supernatural powers but it did seem coincidental that after her song “Waiting For Rain” the heavens well and truly opened over North London, it was also notable for as far as I’m aware the stage debut for Amy Webb on vocals at the end where for reasons too long to explain the song ended up as a duet as well as having the sound of police sirens also trying join in.
Other highlights were “Why Would I Wanna” and to complete the “Wednesday’s Child” EP, the slower pace of the delightful “In The End” and of course the bucket list that is “Before I Die”. It was great to see Lisa back on a country music stage and in fine voice but her evening was not quite over yet.
Kate Ellis has appeared seemingly out of nowhere with a quite spectacular debut LP, and it was a joy to see her with full band recreating the sound of the record to perfection. The two opening songs “What I Can’t Have” and “Don’t Lie To Me” complete with wonderful fiddle work, were delightfully acoustic with an absolutely perfectly clear mix. Andy Hobsbawm, band leader and backing vocalist then went on to pick out beautiful guitar parts for “Ones You Love The Most” surely one of the songs of the year. The crowd were ushered forward as more people were trying to enter being called by this musical siren.
There were then a couple of technical mishaps that perhaps slightly interrupted the flow of the evening but once they were in full flow on songs like “Paper Scissors Rock” you could forgive them anything, especially Henry Webster who seemed to be playing a different instrument each time you looked at him including occasionally two within the same song.
Throughout the night the one constant was the effortless ease with which Kate sang, never more capturing then on “The Night Before The Dawn” or on the exceptionally heartfelt “Carve Me Out” our personal favourite on the night. The answer to how she came to music late after originally being a lawyer was explained prior to “Going Against The Grain”.
For the final two songs, Lisa wright was to return to the stage, to join Andy on backing vocals on ”Inside” and then for an absolutely perfect performance of “I Believe” with the audience also joining in on backing vocals. Signing off with the phrase “We’re going to be alright” it was the perfect end to a great night with a well put together, high quality bill of performers.