Do More Magazine: David Gray Review

Another live review published in Do More Magazine, this time of singer-songwriter David Gray and his performance at the Bournemouth Pavilion.

DavidGray

As soon as David Gray and his accompanying band of seven entered the stage of the Bournemouth Pavilion on Wednesday night a warm, lively reception greeted them from a packed crowd.  Already well-respected for his back-catalogue of indie – folk rock, it’s safe to say that Gray would have been welcomed just as enthusiastically prior to this year’s new release. Yet armed with fresh material from new album Mutineers, his audience were clearly in the mood to celebrate.

Wasting no time in promoting new tracks, the singer-songwriter started the night’s proceedings with ‘Birds of the High Arctic’, a beautiful introduction followed by a handful of other Mutineers tracks. At the start of songs like ‘Gulls’ and ‘Back in the World’ murmurs of appreciation within the transfixed crowd was indicative of their early familiarity with the star’s latest work.

Following shower upon shower of warm applause, we were taken through a meander of older material, revisiting well-loved songs from breakthrough album White Ladder. By this point people were making their admiration heard with cheering, shouts of “Brilliant!” and even a few ladies waving and swaying in the aisles. Maintaining a sophisticated demeanour throughout, Gray seemed delighted by the response to his first ever Bournemouth performance. His talented band members also visibly loosened up as the set progressed, clearly enjoying their own musical delights.

As the show came to a close, an exuberant plea for an encore brought about three more tracks from the talented front-man and co., at which point the majority of the audience were standing and embracing the opportunity to sing along to their favourites. Of course ‘Babylon’ made an appearance as the evening’s finale.

Judging by the overall age-range of the crowd, the night’s performance was occupied by long-term fans of Gray’s work. But if he continues to perform shows of this stature, then new generations of music lovers are sure to be entranced by his distinctive style and genuine persona for years to come.

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Do More Magazine: Flow #4 Review

Below is my review of Flow #4 (an interpretive dance show), originally published on Do More Magazine.

BrokenRose

“Everything you see tonight, you will never see again.” This is how Gemma Connell, artistic director of performing arts company Broken Rose, introduces tonight’s show. This is the Bournemouth-based company’s fourth production of Flow, a touring open-stage performance that combines spoken word, improvisation and dance.  As a headlining act for the Winchester’s monthly Freeway Poet event, this would be the second opportunity for a local crowd to bear witness to a truly spontaneous and unique event.

Fitting with the poetry night’s theme – Body Language, the Flow performers merge words with movement. Poet Joe Selby kicked things off to an excellent start with his spoken word, whilst dancers Ruby Adams and Emily Mercer took turns at interpreting his words through expressive dance alongside Joe. As Gemma explains, the dancers are never informed prior to a Flow show as to what kind of poetry will be read; a daunting prospect for the average spectator. But of course, the ladies know what they’re doing and manage to perform in way that captivates the audience into a state of reflection, simultaneously providing a visually dramatic accompaniment to Joe’s wondrous recital.

By this point, occupants of the packed venue were transfixed to the small group’s experimental approach and when the time arrived for Gemma to call for poets in the audience open to reciting their own work, an immediate show of hands demonstrated the crowd’s eagerness to get involved. Popular poets from earlier in the evening took to the stage and embraced the chance to couple their work with the movement of Ruby and Emily, who once again made an honourable attempt at interpreting what was offered within the confines of a small stage. Who knows what magic they could muster in larger venue?

The most overwhelmingly positive response came from the final part of Flow. Further crowd participation was encouraged for a session of tag freestyle poetry and the chance to go head to head with Joe. Again, the crowd’s reaction was instant and one individual confidently made his way up to the mic. Hilarity ensued as the two performers exchanged lines back and forth and kept everyone in attendance highly entertained throughout.

With this ending being met with a barrage of applause, laughter, shouts and cheers, such brilliant feedback was not only a testament to the originality and boldness of the Flow team, but an example of the artistic appreciation flowing from a small and supportive Bournemouth community.

Do More Magazine: Polly & the Billets Doux Interview

This interview was originally published on Do More Magazine. I spoke to front-woman Polly Perry of Polly and the Billets Doux ahead of their UK tour.

I also reviewed their new album. It’s a good, soothing listen.

MoneyTree

Congratulations with Money Tree! With such a combination of genres and influences audible in the band’s sound, I’m assuming music has always been a prominent factor in your life?

Yes, of course! Though I never studied music at school or college… One had to choose between art and music. I wanted to do both. I grew up listening to my parents massively eclectic record collection, anything from Ian Dury, Gong, Nina Simone, Fairport Convention, X Ray Spex, all sorts! My Nan was a singer in the War, so whenever I see her we duet 40’s sentimental songs.

What were your primary inspirations (lyrical or otherwise) when writing Money Tree?

Money Tree was inspired by the Northern Poet Tony Harrison. We tour a lot in the north of England which we love. The lyrics are inspired by the images and places we have been and also a book called the Sisters Brothers by Jonathan DeWitt.

Are there any specific themes or concepts behind the album? Or perhaps every song has a unique thought or story behind it?

I would say that we enjoy the diversity of the songs but there is generally a strong sense of struggle, death and travel. Money Tree features our first murder ballad in Calico Blankets, heavily story based, inspired by the weather. It was a truly freezing cold day and Steeny was feeling gloomy.

Do you have any favourite songs on the album?

That’s tough, but probably ‘Black Crow’ because I love the rhythm, the darkness and the birds. Steeny likes them all and can’t choose between them but loves playing ‘Black Crow’ live. Dan says they are all too different to select one favourite and loves all of them, particularly the driving energy of ‘My Father’s House’. And Ben loves ‘Old Virginia’, because after years of bringing the accordion to the recording studio, we finally buckled and allowed him to play it!

Are there any particular songs on Money Tree that you’re expecting to go down particularly well live? Or that you’re especially excited to perform live?

Black Crow’ – we love performing it! The rhythm bestrides four triplets and 3/4 straight so it’s super fun to play and great to dance to.

Between releasing your début album and EP you’ve toured extensively and performed at several UK festivals like Glastonbury, Green Man and The Big Chill. But if you could pick one highlight of the band’s career so far, what would it be and why?

Touring Ireland was a major highlight for us. We had never really been there before and had an incredible time! We met some of the warmest, most hospitable and fun people.

Touring can be tough for some. Do you enjoy the touring lifestyle?

I enjoy the parts where we visit new places and go to interesting museums. I am very much an outdoors girl and so I find sitting in the van for hours can drive me crazy. But if I get the opportunity to set off across a field for a walk and get a bit muddy I can keep relatively sane.

Have you played anywhere in the UK where the audience are particularly enthusiastic/appreciative of the band?

We haven’t yet had underwear thrown at us. But a gentleman once bought me a necklace and a man last night made us some personalised wooden toys! A man has also had some of our lyrics tattooed on his chest. In terms of whooping and hollering… The Ceilidh Place in Scotland.

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