Wednesday 30th January 2013
The Borderline, London is a great place to hear live music. Set in a basement just off Charing Cross Road, near Foyles bookstore, it’s a little rough around the edges (but better for it) and, though the range of drinks available at the bar is not extensive, it’s worth remembering this is primarily a music venue, not a pub. A smallish space (capacity 300 souls) with friendly staff and – most importantly – great sound. The size and layout are conducive to an enjoyable atmosphere, but when full it does get a bit hot and sweaty
The evening was kicked off in lively fashion by Lee Broderick. This Liverpudlian singer/songwriter has toured extensively supporting the likes of Paolo Nutini and KT Tunstall. With his own brand of acoustic rock, and noticeable country/folk influences, he had the crowd with him from the first note, demonstrating what a fine musician and singer he is. This was my first experience of Lee and his music, which I enjoyed very much. I shall be keeping an eye out for him in the future and listening to more of his particular musical style.
When I bought my ticket for this show it was a real bonus to discover that Kal Lavelle was to provide support. I’ve had the great pleasure of seeing Kal play several times and whenever she takes to the stage, she delivers. Whatever the venue (wherever the venue), this talented girl engages readily with her audience, and last night was no different. The cheeky Irish warmth of her playfully naughty personality belies the strength of her songwriting ability. An ability which allows her to craft deeply personal, seductively raw pieces that speak to the listener on a truthful human level. When she sings you get the impression she feels every word, without any hint of contrivance or theatrics. Kal’s songs mean something.
A regular and extremely popular fixture on the London pub/club circuit, chatty and personable (an Irish girl who likes a chat – who’d have thought?) this young woman deserves everything good that comes her way. Her performance was exemplary and heartfelt with her voice giving real emotion to the songs. See her play if you get the chance and get yourself a copy of her Shivers EP, which is a thing of subtle beauty.
Following a short interval, Leddra Chapman’s band took the stage to ready themselves and tune-up. They began playing the opening number of their set when the gorgeous creature that is Leddra Chapman strolled out to join them. She immediately demonstrated how comfortable she is in front of a room full of people, with a big smile and twinkle in her eyes, as she picked up her guitar and seamlessly joined in with the band. And then she started to sing. Believe me when I tell you this girl has a fantastic voice and is a great singer.
Previously described as ‘filling a similar space to early Alanis Morissette and Joni Mitchell’, she certainly has the songwriting sensibilities of both women but without the bitter angst of the former. I would also add she is so much more than this. Using her voice to great effect, playing with notes up and down the scale, her versatility as a singer and writer of lyrical tunes is quite something. This young lady is difficult to pin down musically with a range that sees her as soulful balladeer one moment, moving up to quasi-anthemic, crowd-pleasing diva – not a million miles from Florence Welch – the next. And calling at many points in between. She also has a wicked sense of humour. Her songs could be described as scenes from love and life, inasmuch as they engage us directly about the things we all experience; things such as desire, loss, hope and longing. Songs that are very much the unmistakable work of a genuine artist.
This was a brilliant performance from an absolute star and her excellent band (personal highlights included Woman and I Got Rhythm). A band that were pitch perfect, tight and played as a unit rather than a collection of skilled individuals. The lovely female cellist was an inspired touch (musically, of course). I have no doubt that Leddra Chapman will go on to even bigger and better things down the line. Talent like this cannot be ignored and I can’t wait to see them play again. I can also highly recommend her recorded material, which is fantastic.
As a footnote, I would like to respond to some criticism I have received from certain quarters recently (no names – this isn’t a bitchfest). I have been accused of being far too effusive in my praise of certain acts I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. My response is this: I’m not a music critic (but certainly no lickspittle either) and am fully aware I will not receive any awards for my writing. I love music – particularly live music – when it is played by talented, hard-working musicians. None featured in my writing are household names but people who are passionate about their craft and work diligently to be the best they can be. They do the hard yards, playing the pub/club circuit all over the country (and often beyond) in their efforts to make a living doing something they love. The vast majority of them are also really nice people. And I believe they deserve a wider audience.
So, I am not going to criticise any of them. Whatever plaudits are given are thoroughly deserved in my opinion. But that’s all it is – my opinion. If I do see an act which I don’t like or think not very good I shall simply not write about them. Because it is only my opinion after all, and who am I to put them down. Moreover, who really cares what I think.