Leeds Music Scene

Gig review of Charlie Straw + Naomi Coombes + Fran Wyburn + Katie Dean

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Reviewed on 18th April 2015.


Charlie Straw

Live at The Library on Friday, 13th March 2015

It has been said that, at any one time, anywhere in the world, there are at least five different episodes of Friends, the popular 90s sitcom which filled our hearts and primetime viewing for ten years, being watched by various different people. This fact, be it from whatever authority, does seem quite, you know, odd. Are there really people, in the dead of night on a Wednesday in February watching The One Where Phoebe is a Contrived Annoyance? Perhaps there are. I'm not sure. Don't get me wrong, I am no stranger to the odd begrudging marathon of this grossly watchable and fiendishly well-written situational glance at Big Apple in the 1990s; we've all flopped in front of Comedy Central (R.I.P the E4 days) and smirked our way through jokes we all already knew. Who knows, maybe it's more than five. Ten. Fifty. All of the ones in which it's clear Rachel has got little career to look forward to. It might be that we are all addicted to Friends, the ol' 'who needs real friends when...' switcheroo. In fact, some of you reading this probably devote a good portion of their spare time to watching Ross and Rachel to and fro for over a decade (WILL THEY WON'T THEY??). What a way to spend free time on a Friday. So, whilst you telly addicts were all watching Friends, it seems, I was out doing proper stuff, with real people and some of my real friends. Or maybe I had flicked over to Frasier, I'm not quite sure.

Proper stuff, for those of you looking for some clarification, normally entails listening to music, because, who doesn't love music? On the busybody social scale, extra points are awarded for that music being live. So, I went back to the 360 Club for another little shindig I was thankfully invited to.

The night's music was somewhat of a change. Rather than the grungier, heavier and even murkier end of the spectrum I had become accustomed to, the night ahead promised acoustic pleasures and something perhaps a little more calming and subtle. A change in quality, however, was up to them.

First on the setlist was a pleasantly striking young student named Naomi Coombes, with a pretty yet crisp voice. Whilst the slower and acoustic work of many is not normally my go to choice of soundtrack, something in her act, most probably her voice, did begin to catch the attention of the crowd. With a reduced input of instruments, she relied solely on the quality of her voice and her minimal guitar picking. This stripped down version of a live performance left little to the imagination, and thus it is ostensible to the least musical ear that Naomi is a singer with much promise and much talent. Particularly poignant was her current pièce de résistance, Start from Scratch. If not, watch the 360 Sessions with Naomi singing her song Limits, a bluesier turn in her music.

Taking an even more thoughtful and reserved tone was the next artist, Katie Dean, whom is more into the folk side of acoustic music. Delicately arranged, Katie music was harmonious in parts, and, at the very least, well rehearsed. A Leeds local, Katie has become increasingly prevalent in the often reserved and calmer, but equally as talented slow acoustic circles, and shows us a pedigree of sorts in being observant and transcribing this into melodic songs.

The next act, Charlie Straw, was met with a loud cheer. Now, as it turns out, this man can bloody sing. Like, proper sing. On his own and all. Not knowing what to expect when gaggles of girls sing his praises, it was more than pleasing to say that he's not half bad at it; his voice was loud, not in the way of a discordant cry but far reaching and attention snatching, his guitar work carefully selected to accompany his lyrics without subtracting or overpowering and, to be fair, he even sort of looked the part. With a variety of tempos to bring the crowd around to something resembling a Friday night, he genuinely engrossed me, particularly with his muted string work in Every Time You Call, hushing the crowd naturally to pull them in. An impressive show the sum of people considered (one). With a bit of professional, or at least more experienced crafting of the set, perhaps to keep the tempo more consistent and natural in feel, Charlie Straw not only deserves, but will go on to at least some level of success because, frivolities aside, he can really do what he's doing, and he can do it rather well. One to watch with an eagle eye; else you'll lose him. Honest.

My brief increase in tempo gone, I tumbled back down to a more reserved soundtrack but, thankfully, one not of lesser quality. What eased the entire process were the delicate noisings of track of Fran Wyburn, a five piece mismatch headed by Fran, the most innocent one can be whilst still being older than myself. Quite remarkable. Her acoustic folk pieces seemed genuinely heartfelt, with gentle chords, strums and warm rattle of the drums, a change for many acts, and the ever-smiling Fran seemed to cheer everyone up, even when she warned of it plummeting with her reduced speed of the music. A well crafted act whose quality, especially those of song writing, was obvious. Note to how bloody nice they were, they even posted on the event on the internet to thank everyone for being respectful. Ah, old fashioned manners. Cant beat them, I tell you. She's the kind of friend I want. We can omit Phoebe all together.



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4 bands associated with this article.

Charlie Straw

Naomi Coombes

Singer-songwriter based in Leeds

Fran Wyburn

Fran Wyburn is one of Leeds' new folk talents.

Katie Dean


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