On Tuesday afternoon I headed into Central London to attend the ‘Summer in the Square’ event in Grosvenor Square. This is an extremely picturesque setting with marquees and tents were dotted all over the square, the only downside being the changeable weather, although thankfully the rain had stopped by the time I arrived and just about held off throughout the entire show.
I was there to see Demi Marriner, an artist I have already featured regularly on the site, but I was really looking forward to seeing play live for the first time. Before Demi appeared, we were treated to a performance from the ‘National Youth Jazz Orchestra’, which I have to say was very entertaining, even if it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, which included two excellent vocal performances and a conductor who was full of charisma.
Demi appeared just before 7pm and her first song was ‘Learn to Love’, a new song to me which was written about some of recent atrocities that have taken place, such as the Orlando killings. This was a very apt number to start, as just a hundred yards or so to the right of the stage is the American Embassy (situated on Grosvenor Square itself) and at that very moment there was a lively ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest going on.
It’s always very interesting to see an artist perform live for the first time, especially when you’ve heard them on record a great number of times and I have to say I was immediately impressed with her confident and expressive vocals.
The next two songs were from Demi’s EP ‘Tracks and Trails’ which reached number one on the iTunes UK country chart. ‘Pretty’ was first and I love this track, especially the up-tempo part just before the end, and this worked perfectly live.’C-You’ was next, the opening track to the EP. Demi introduced this as a ‘real country song’ and this up-tempo number was a real highlight. I noticed Demi was singing this with a smile on her face throughout and you can’t help but smile along to this infectious track, the song ending with a shout of ‘Yeeha!’.
The set included two excellent covers of ‘Ho Hey’ by the Lumineers and Maren Morris’s ‘My Church’ and sandwiched between the two was a new song called ‘Gone’. This is a song that I have to hear again as it was simply brilliant and I get the impression that it’s a song that could have quite an impact (tomorrow I’ll be sharing an exclusive recording of the song on the site!). Demi’s set ended with the upbeat ‘Moving On’ which really showed off the powerful side to her vocal talents and provided the perfect end to the show.
Before seeing Demi live, I’d already worked out she was a talented artist, but now having seen her perform, I have to say she is fantastic. She has an amazing voice, a great versatility and though just 19 years old is completely confident in her performance. The UK country scene is thriving and with artists as good as Demi Marriner emerging, the future is in safe hands.
After the gig, I was lucky enough to grab a few words with Demi in the picturesque setting of the Square, me, Dan (her manager) and Demi sat in deckchairs under the blue/grey sky. Firstly I asked her about the summer so far and the festivals she had played at.
“We played Wychwood Festival in Cheltenham about a month ago now and we were lucky enough to play the main stage which was just amazing. Considering we were on at half past eleven we had a massive crowd which was really nice. Just last weekend we did ‘2000 Trees’ and we played the ‘Forest’ stage where they do the ‘Forest Sessions’, and you’re literally in the most gorgeous forest setting, with lanterns and hay bales and hammocks everywhere. We also played the Cheltenham Jazz festival a couple of months ago and played the free stage there. Similarly to the ‘2000 Trees’ festival, they’re not solely country music festivals, so you never know how you’re going to go down, but we’ve been lucky enough to go down really well.”
I then asked Demi about plans for the rest of the summer and what else we can expect from her in 2016.
“Well this coming Friday I’ll be supporting Rufus Wainwright at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham which will be both amazing and very scary! I think it’s pretty much sold out, so this will be my biggest show to date which will be exciting and it’s solo too, which is even scarier! Next week I’ll be recording a session with Baylen Leonard in Gateshead, which I’m really looking forward to – it’s been booked and in the pipelines for what feels like years now!
I’m also doing a lot of writing. In the past I’ve done all of the writing myself, both music and lyrics. But back in January we got the band together, so now we’re trying to all write together collaboratively, which is both nice and different. I’m also trying to do some collaboration with different artists over the summer, even if they’re not necessarily country artists. Up until September I’ll be writing loads in preparation for a new EP release at the end of the year.”