Sunday, 30 March 2014


Live Review

Glee Club (Studio), Birmingham

When a legend such as Leonard Cohen describes your voices as sublime then you get an idea that your singing can't be too shabby, and especially after coming off a world tour with the iconic singer.

Hattie and Charley Webb at the Glee
This is the experience of Hattie and Charley Webb, collectively The Webb Sisters.
The Kentish lasses were at the Glee Club in Brum back on their own and opened with a their version of Always On My Mind from their stopgap EP When Will You Come Home.
Not an easy choice, as it's been covered many times by some of he biggest names in music not least of which is Elvis Presley. But the sisters kept the basic frame of the tune but used their impressive voices and the range of notes they can conjure up to produce a really good version of the song.
They must be due to bring a new album out in the not too distant future as it's been three years since their last full one, Savages, from which much of the show was taken.
With their voices warmed up they let loose with Closer Than We Are and with Charley on the guitar and Hattie on the harp, strapped over her shoulder, they began to show the range and clarity of harmonies their voices can produce.
Perhaps one of the most recognisable songs they have made, 1,000 Stars, from their Savages album came next with them displaying a range in their voices that began up in the lighting rigs and then kept taking off from there without losing a millimetre of clarity. The mighty vocals were accented beautifully with their harmonies and the solid plucking of the harp and strong strumming of the guitar.
With Hattie moving from the harp to the mandolin they pulled another from Savages, In Your Father's Eyes, which again is a perfect vehicle for their crystal clear voices with Charley's really shining this time and with Hattie providing the harmonies.
They moved to a cover version with Tracy Chapman's Baby Can I Hold You? which was a really soulful rendition with Hattie picking up the tune wonderfully on the mandolin. This was followed by a slightly pregnant pause when they couldn't get their story right about their gig in Poland before they introduced a new song, The Anchor.
It was brought in with a throbbing pluck on the harp strings and Charley's voice matching the stomping beat. The ballad again gave them a chance to fill the intimate room with the voices which are far too big for it but were never lost or distorted.
The Webb Sisters
There was a pretty interesting story behind Hattie's favourite harp which is linked to their parents' B&B and a rather unsavoury tale about toenail clippings, you have to hear it in the whole to appreciate it fully.
This was followed by another from Savages, Words That Mobilise, which opened a Capella with the clever almost rap-like use of some seriously lengthy words.
The siblings' voices were very much the power element on this being underpinned by the clear strings of Hattie's precise plucking on the harp.
Leornard Cohen's song/prayer If It Be Your Will was such an unadorned piece of vocal excellence that they filled with emotion and was accented by the almost staccato notes of the harp and the softness the tones they sang gave it am almost ethereal quality, you could almost feel the sunlight bursting through a stained-glass church window.
It was back to Savages for the next one with the opening track Baroque Nights that really defines the sound of the sisters it's without doubt one of the strongest tracks on the album and it is even more powerful when experienced live.
There was a request from one of their former teachers who was obviously a fan of the Savages album and so they played the rockier sound of Burn with Charley taking centre stage for this one.
From their latest EP, When Will You Come Home? they played It May Be Spring But I Still Need A Coat which opened with just their voices before they filled out the vocals with Hattie on mandolin and Charley on guitar. It's one of those real jaunty tunes which gets into your mind and is difficult to get rid of, fortunately it's a real pleasant song.
Leonard Cohen
Missing Person is another gentle ballad which was a perfect vehicle for their rich and clear voices and you can see the video to the track either on YouTube or from the sisters' website. Hattie moved back on to the harp for Monetary from their 2006 Daylight Crossing album and really got a chance to show her skill with her favourite instrument going out on a high with her hands a blur plucking the strings on the last bars.
The two sisters did a cover version of Cohen's Show Me The Place from their new EP which carries more than a few biblical references to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
Hattie again excelled herself with the gentle and precise plucking of the harp before Charley brought in the powerful lyrics throughout.
The next song they devoted to their sister Nat, The Goodnight Song, is a beautiful pseudo lullaby which the sisters sing with gorgeous breathiness.
They finished the set with Tomorrow Now from their Daylight album which has a sixties Simon & Garfunkel feel about it.
There is no arguing with Cohen, The Webb Sisters' do have sublime voices, they also have a great talent for a multitude of instruments and are real treat to watch live, all we really need now is a new album, hint hint.

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