Live at Brudenell Social Club on Friday, 27th July 2012
Yes you did read that right... Charlotte Church at the Brudenell! You are probably as surprised as I am at this. But any preconceived notions of what this could be are disposed of at the entrance; with an open mind I was ready for an interesting night!
First support is Jasmine Kennedy; I missed her first few songs, but walked in to a captivated audience for her a capella version of 'A slow pursuit'. So much so, I had to whisper to order a beer at the bar! I am pleased to see the she received a well-deserved appreciation for her poignant rendition of 'A Cardigan Sweater' and a little laugh for her comical pleas to buy her CD, so she can afford a tent for her next gig. A gentle start for Jasmine and it was lovely to see her in a more fitting setting.
Next up is Pony and Trap, brightening the stage with an abundance of sequins. They start with a strong and distinctive vocal, I can hear a little bit of Dolores O´Riordan, but there is a more familiar sound I can't quite place. Pony and Trap are individually great musicians, but I feel despite the strength of both Tom on Guitar and Sally on vocal, it is lacking a bit of energy and missing a band. They play an acoustic version of 'Ground Rules', which works better, but it sounds so much more complete when the pre-recorded drum comes in for the final two tracks.
In anticipation, there is a lot of chatter, as Charlotte and her band fill the stage. She hits the vocals immediately and the room is silenced. Playing all new material, she drops three tracks, one after the other before introducing them. 'Rise', her second track of the evening, displays the astounding range of her vocal. The highs have such clarity and the difficult low register is flawless, mixed with the clever use of a looped vocal pedal, to add depth, she displays total control and a refined maturity.
I think no one really knew what to expect from Charlotte, me included, and truth be told, we are a somewhat stunned and captivated. Trying to place a category for this new direction is difficult, I'm not sure it fits the pop category? It is more alternative rock, with a great edgy sound. She has a great command of the space around her, sharing the stage well and suits working with a band.
Charlotte comments on loving Leeds and likened our beloved Brudenell to Phoenix Nights, which raises a laugh. So we see her humour, while in between songs she spoons mouthfuls of Manuka honey (I think she is nursing a sore throat) and deals with hecklers, laughing off the calls for her to sing 'Jerusalem'.
She shares with us her favourite song, 'Breach of the peace' and you can see there are moments she is totally lost in her music. During one song, there is an oddly surreal moment, the violinist turns conductor and all you have is the power of Charlotte's voice. I say odd; because I don't think any once else could do this without looking pretentious, but in this setting, it works!
Song after song is filled with passion and heartfelt vocals, you feel her living and breathing every word of her 'Memory of you heart'. However, the outstanding track of the night for me was 'This is how not to be surprised when you're a ghost'. It is a mesmerising and stunning performance. I have to admit, I love this re-invention of Charlotte Church, and honestly, this sound is as dramatic as when Florence and the Machine first graced our airwaves.
As the evening draws to a close, never one to shy from speaking her mind, she shares her views of the current musical moguls having 'shit for ears'. I agree! I also believe she is free from the shackles and restraints of these music industry types, confident with her evolution and re-invention and has developed into a credible artist. This performance bared her soul and opened her heart to a warm and receptive Leeds crowd. Surprisingly outstanding!
Pony And Trap are a 2 piece York band with a distinctive style
Jasmine Kennedy is a singer/songwriter from Batley