Tuesday, 17 June 2014

WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT

Live Review

Various artists
Newhampton Arts Centre

The second Baddies Boogie-organised When The Lights Go Out acoustic session at the theatre of the Newhampton Arts Centre Wolverhampton seemed to fall victim to the World Cup with the turnout considerably down on the previous.

Zak Christie
It didn't seem as well organised either as there was no compere, no introductions of the acts who were left pretty much to their own devices. This said the show did start on time and ran pretty smoothly
The somewhat poisoned chalice of opening went to Zak Christie a singer/songwriter and guitarist from Sedgley which borders Wolverhampton and Dudley.
He opened with a cover version of Crawling Back To You by the Arctic Monkeys. The nerves were showing a little and he did have to struggle to reach the top notes but Christie has a good voice and when he relaxed into doing his own stuff he sounded much better.
His singing does have more than a hint of Sugarman Rodriguez about it.
With Tales of Before, one of his own songs which will be on his EP out later in the year, you begin to get a sense of the real Christie. His voice was more relaxed, more at home with the range and it also showed off his impressive picking on the guitar. There was a gentleness in his voice this time which was reminiscent of Donovan. Christie slowed things down with another of his own songs, Goodbye, which again was accented with some pretty cool guitar work. As he got more into his set and rhythm you could discern any hint of nerves dissipating.
With Stay Close To Me, he laid down more of a jazz beat to it and brought to mind the style of Michael Kiwanuka, he followed this with a cover version of The Beatles Blackbird which was OK but there was the odd occasion at the bottom end of the range he seemed to struggle to get his voice down there. From there he went upbeat with another of his own compositions Love You So and again sounded like Rodriguez.
The Second Trip
Listening to him it's obvious that although still a little raw and rough around the edges Christie is a good songwriter. He is clearly a versatile talent and has real skill with his guitar and is definitely one to keep an eye out for on the acoustic circuit.
He was followed by The Second Trip a duo, at least this time, who were a different kettle of fish. They are a couple of likeable lads who have certain qualities in their sound which remind of Oasis although it does, on occasion, have more of an American tinge to it which gave them a sound not unlike R.E.M.
With their track How? They laid into their guitars with real commitment and the lead singer totally threw himself into the vocals but at times went a little over the top and did unfortunately slip into shouting.
They definitely need to work on their stage presence and engage a little more with the audience. Theirs is definitely a young sound and while they may not appeal to everyone on the acoustic circuit it's the type of sound which will hit a chord to their contemporaries.
There is a good range in their sound and they do have a rawness which is appealing.
Daniel Kirk
They were followed by Wolverhampton's own Daniel Kirk who is making quite a name for himself on the Midlands folk circuit and for good reason.
Kirk has a distinctive and emotion-filled singing style which is more than matched by his ability to get a great sound out of his guitars.
He blasted straight into his opener with all the confidence of a seasoned pro and then brought down the tempo with a more country sounding song Jolene, nothing to do with the Dolly Parton version. Kirk has a rich often melancholic voice that is just a pleasure to listen to.
Kirk is limited at the moment by his repertoire and wants to get his own songs out on an album as soon as he can but what he does perform he does incredibly well and professionally.
Decoration Day was just one example of his impressive sound using his newly acquired steel guitar which gave a real raw, edgy and industrial sound to his singing and playing. He followed this with one of his favourites The House Carpenter which he sings so well and his voice brings a real depth of emotion to the traditional song which he finished off with a real flourish on his strings. Kirk is without doubt a talent the city should be proud of.
The only woman on the bill was Chloe Rose Fisher from Willenhall, who seemed like she was at the wrong gig. To be fair it's hard to gauge her performance because it seems her guitarist pulled out too late for her to get a replacement and she had to perform to a backing track which made it sound more akin to the kind of act you get on cruise ships rather than an acoustic songstress.
Chloe Rose Fisher
Fisher has a strong voice and at times it sounds quite soulful and seems to project an image which reminds of the 1950s club singers, a genre which has been reinvented by artists such as Paloma Faith and Imelda May but Fisher does seem to have some cliched bad habits.
The backing track was a little cheesy and didn't do anything to help Fisher and her version of Will You Love Me Tomorrow was laboured and almost sounded like a parody. There were times when she obviously over reached her ability but it would be fairer and certainly interesting to hear her with her acoustic backing proper.
The final act of the night was another duo, Jak & Dave, that is David Wilkes and Jak Garrity from West Bromwich who certainly know how to make their presence felt. What they may lack in terms of range they certainly make up for in enthusiasm.
They know how to engage the crowd, even if it was slightly partisan. They don't have the most tuneful of voices and they sounded a little flat when they performed Leftovers but it was obvious they enjoy being out there on stage and their animated performance is infectious.
There was an organic rough edge and an honesty to their performance and they did a reasonable job of  covering The Beatles I Feel Fine.
David Wilkes
Jak Garrity
They do tend to be a little hit and miss when they perform but they are very likeable and almost cheeky performers but it will no doubt be interesting to see them develop, mature and refine their act.
With Sitting On A Floating dream the sound they produced was almost a throwback to the days of skiffle underneath there was a slight hint of jug band beat to it. Jak & Dave are hard to categorise which isn't necessarily a bad thing. They switched from this to Oh I Forgot and this time it sounded a little like the Everly Brothers. But whatever they perform they do it with real gusto.
Whether you liked all the acts or not what an event such as this shows is that there is a wealth of talent out there in the Midlands, talent at all levels and what's more they need venues which are willing to give them a platform, somewhere to try out and somewhere to make mistakes and grow.
Somewhere such as the theatre at the Newhampton Arts Centre, Dunkley Street, Whitmore Reans which is, and could be more so, a real asset to the city of Wolverhampton.