Gigs in August are notoriously badly attended, but Belles and Gals/Halo Management definitely bucked this trend last Thursday with a packed house for their show at London’s Green Note! The UK is producing some incredibly talented female singer/songwriters when it comes to country music and the evening showcased three of them, each making their debut at this well respected venue. As always the sound throughout the evening was superb ( despite the challenges made on sound engineer Nick by the mix of set ups) and the audience gave the performers 100% attention. The line up was well thought out, with each artist exploring a slightly different aspect of the musical genre and bringing their own style to the stage.
It was Belles and Gals sponsored artist Lucy Grubb and recipient of the site’s 2017 “ UK EP of the year “ award for her debut release “ 18 Miles”, who got the evening underway . Norwich based Lucy is making a big impact on the country music scene and this year has been a busy one for her gig wise, including appearances at Red Rooster Festival and most recently on the BBC Introducing Stage at Countryfile Live. She stunned everyone from the start with her soaring vocals and well crafted songs, her gentle style leaning towards the Americana style from which she draws much inspiration. Her lyrics draw you in, and as well as songs from her first EP we heard several new numbers that she told us will be included on her new EP which she plans to record for release later this year. The possible title track, “ Dear Walter”, was particularly poignant, being about the loss of her grandad ….” I’ll raise a whiskey or maybe two, ‘cos Tennessee dreaming is made for me and you”. A competent cover of “ Jackson” and a tribute to Johnny Cash ( “ In Common”, another which will definitely feature on her next release) showed off her more trad country leanings. Closing with the title track to “ 18 Miles” it was great to see so many people waiting to chat to her after her set, she is definitely an artist on the rise and is quietly making a name for herself without the need for flashy gimmicks or commercial, foot tapping choruses.
A short break and it was time for Worcester based Devon Mayson’s set. Named “ UK Newcomer of the Year” in the 2017 Belles and Gals awards I hadn’t managed to catch Devon live before and wow, this lady is so talented it’s insane! Not only is she a truly wonderful songwriter and vocalist with stage presence in bucket loads, she is a multi-instrumentalist who during the set played acoustic guitar, fiddle, banjo and electric harp! Joined by Did ( yep, that’s his name!) on acoustic guitar and Juliette on fiddle ( adding a bluegrass/celtic vibe ) and in total contrast to the calm, laid back set from Lucy the trio brought an explosion of energy to the evening. With witty chat in-between the numbers she demonstrated her vocal versatility with a good mix of ballads and uptempo songs and performed with the confidence that comes from being an artist who plays live on a regular basis. Her debut album was released two years ago to the week, and included in the set were the title track “ Lie To Me” ( what a beautiful ballad!) “ Lipstick In The Limelight” ( delivered with appropriate attitude) and the heart wrencher “ Fly High” about the loss of her cousin Billie aged just twelve. We also got to hear the fun single “ You Only Love Me When You’re Drunk “ and a brand new song, “ Sunflower” which had only been performed once before…..let’s hope this indicates there’s another album or at least EP on the way soon! Like Lucy she also threw a cover into the set, telling us “ It’s our job to warm you up, get you involved….and you may know this one as I didn’t write it!” before inviting us to join in the chorus of what turned out to be a lively version of Florence And The Machine’s “ You’ve Got The Love”. The set ended on a high note with another from her album, “ No”, which not only had us clapping along but included a mini “ battle of the fiddles” between Devon and Juliette. Massive cheers from the audience indicated that I wasn’t the only one totally won over by this exciting and impressive performance.
There was a real party atmosphere in the room by the time headliner Jeannine Barry took to the stage, an artist who needed little introduction to the majority of the audience. She is a fantastic vocalist and performer who has deservedly earned herself a great following. I always enjoy seeing her live, she puts her heart and soul into every second of every song and she can switch from a heartbreaking ballad to a sassy, fun filled number in the blink of an eye. As glamorous as always, Jeannine was dressed in a fringed suede mini skirt and was joined by her four-piece band ( drums and bass, lead and acoustic guitars ). In the limited space she still found room to dance around and engaged with the audience at every opportunity. This line-up have been together for a year now ( I last saw them at C2C) and gel really well. Apparently they are busy writing together for their next album and we were in fact treated to a totally brand new song ( completed on Monday!) at the end of the set, “ Boys Like You”, a real girl-power number about being yourself. Having thrown the prepared set list “out of the window” Jeannine was flying by the seat of her pants, admitting “we know what we’re doing, we just don’t know when!” but there were of course some favourites from her past EP’s in the mix. “Burning Bridges” (written in just 30 mins she told us, after a ‘phone conversation with her now ex) “ Bittersweet” (a brand new version, recorded in Nashville) and the current single “Sweet Spot” were of course all included. Apparently the single is a recent addition to her live set. She also threw in brilliant covers of Lucie Silvas’ “ Letters to Ghosts” and Logan Brill’s “ World Still Round”. There were some fantastic lead guitar solos during the set which were deservedly well received, and I’m really excited to hear more new music from this talented group of musicians in the not-too-distant future. It was great to hear Jeannine thank her band, Belles and Gals/Halo for inviting her to perform at a venue she’d wanted to play for a very long time, and also showing her gratitude to those who came out on a wet Thursday evening (ironically her set had opened with “ Long Hot Summer!!) .
Yes, this was a really fantastic night, thank you so much to all involved, ’til the next time folks ( which is Oct 14th as The Water Rats in case you were wondering!!)
Review written by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)