So what do you do with a vaulted, brick built room built 150 years ago as part of Holborn Viaduct? The clever people at The Winemaker's Club http://thewinemakersclub.co.uk/, who import wines from small producers all over the world, decided to turn it into one of the most intimate and unique venues in London and it recently hosted it's first Laurel Canyon Music gig http://www.laurelcanyonuk.com/
This was not my visit visit to the venue, admired by both performers and audiences for its superb acoustics, nor to a concert organised by Laurel Canyon, who are rapidly gaining a reputation for staging consistently high quality performances, most recently a series of sell-out concerts at St Pancras Old Church. It had all the making of a good night, and I was not disappointed.
Opening the evening was Ash Radford, nominally from the UK but influenced by extensive travels around the globe. He likes playing small, intimate venues where the audience and performer can make a connection at a very personal level. This was wonderfully illustrated when he stopped a song to break into a joke. There's certainly no ego there, but plenty of good sound.
Ash's voice can range over the scale but personally I thought it worked best in the lower ranges. The guitar work was good, too, with skilful percussive sounds round the strings. In keeping with his style, Ash's songs are also at the personal level; these are songs about people and surrounding. "Fire" was one stand out on the night, written in Portugal whilst sleeping under the starts, with a real feel for time and space. There is an EP on the way which will definitely be worth listening to.
After a break for refreshments and a chance to peruse the very good wine selection and craft beers, reasonably priced for the location, it was time for the main act of the evening.
Katey Brook is another singer / songwriter who is so hard to pin down. Musically she comes from everywhere; the UK and USA are major influences but will also draw on her experiences from touring around the world.
She has been described as having "a voice that could melt glaciers". My notebook on the night said her voice "flows over you like melted chocolate". It is rich, deep and warm and worked so well with the acoustics to the extent that Katey unplugged and played a song from the middle of the audience. It was very, very effective and the everyone warmed to her instantly.
Her musical style ranges from Gospel influences to rich ballads, mostly accompanying herself on guitar but some songs featured Paul Quinn on piano. One real treat was a guest appearance from Beth Rowley, who duetted superbly. The songs all feel very personal; love and relationships, the transience of love and life. Theses are things we have all experienced and so we feel as if we are having a conversation, not just listening.
With an EP, "I Fought Lovers" recently released and a new album on the way we will be hearing a lot more of this very talented performer.
There are only so many hours in a day and only so many gigs we can get to. We'd really like to expand our national coverage of the live scene as it remains the life blood of music.
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