Ubergine at the 2019 Summer Warwick Beer festival. Love these guys with strong material, richly layered rhythmic textures and soaring emotive vocals. @ubergine.
A lively, polished and engaging set of folk and pop with some notable guitar work on Fleetwood Mac's Oh Well.
By now I'm sure you'll be aware of the many bees in my bonnet as I tend to repeat much the same obsessions in most reviews, so when I rave on about the quality & diversity of performance & compositional art on show at the Magic Lantern on Friday, please excuse me. But it was true. The show was headlined & compèred by Shanade Morrow & featured her guests Nicky Ager and Aaron Dudfield. Three wholly different singer songwriters: you could not mistake one for another in terms not only of how they perform but also in how they approach their writing. However they did have much in common: a passion & obvious love for what they were doing, a full on commitment to delivery & a most thoughtful & honest way of writing songs: all three were most articulate in talking about their craft & songs: in fact I learned much about the genesis of some of Shanade's songs which although I have heard them played many times, I was not hitherto aware.
First up to the mic was Nicky. He is a real "musician's musician", greatly respected in the local musical community but not perhaps with the highest live profile: look out for him at open mics and festivals because you will be in for a rare treat. Playing two differently tuned guitars, his unusual chording (rather jazzy in tone) complements the equally unusual song structures: you can sit there watching him play without having any firm idea of what is coming next: and that's within individual songs. Nicky claims to write either songs of "regret" or "self loathing" (or both at once), though it is certainly difficult to describe his set closer about the coming out of his sister as either: it was joyous, and his between song humour very uplifting. His only cover was written by Leonard Bernstein which was astonishing in execution & shows you the level of musicianship. This set the evening up for a powerful bond between audience and artists: I can't recall applause of the level Nicky received from the very start at the Magic Lantern before, at least from so early on & it continued in that vein all night.
Second up, Aaron was previously unknown to me, so I was as pleased to be introduced to a "new" artist as I had been to witness Nicky's set. He brought no fewer than three instruments: a Les Paul, acoustic guitar & ukulele & in the end, judging the mood & feel of the intimate space opted to use the latter two only. I imagine that given the Gibson in his possession, Aaron can & does play loudly at times, but tonight his delivery was really quiet, almost whispering into the mic at times & playing delicately throughout (I should point out that the whole evening might be called a "night of picking": all three musicians picked their entire sets: in fact right at the end of the night, Shanade wanted a plectrum for a song: there wasn't one in the house. No one had brought one).
Shanade has been reviewed many times in "Hot Music Live" (not least by me) and that's appropriate for one of the area's leading musicians & one whose musical interests stretch across genres. I've witnessed her playing solo many times but also with a great variety of other musicians (hands up anyone who's not played with Shanade) but there is still something vey special about her shows with just her magnificent voice & her guitar. This evening was certainly one of the best & given that this form of gig isn't one she's been playing very recently (check out her current collaboration with Clint Bruder, Justin Bygrave & Andy Haring: ‘Dark Sparks'), a particular treat. To a room packed (and spilling into the next) with an audience who interestingly were not necessarily existing fans of any of the artists (though judging by the number who went up to each at the end to express their appreciation, there were numerous converts), Shanade enraptured everyone with one of her most incandescent performances. Unleashing her incredible vocals on a range of recent & new songs (one brand new one really knocked me & everyone whom I spoke to out: almost furious in delivery & lyrics I can't wait to hear it recorded, though Shanade did describe it to me as a "work in progress", so I can't even share its name with you. You'll just have to go to one of her gigs & hear it for yourselves). Another new piece I hadn't heard before was for her baby son (it might be called "Sun". Or it might be called "Best Friend") and which due to its musical compatibility she played as a medley with her superb "Lessons". On the other hand I have heard songs like "Who Is The Lion", "Gambling Man" and "Devil Get Gone" on numerous occasions: all excellent versions with bands & without, but this evening's were particularly excellent played with an especial intensity.
I left the venue a very satisfied & happy chap & it is clear I was far from alone.
There are a handful of great locally based artists not so much emerging (how can they be just "emerging" when they have spent time honing their craft?) as suddenly breaking out into the consciousness of much wider audiences: mine too.
Without doubt one of them are The Rising: already covered by this magazine several times in a short space of time so great has their impact been. Selected as Artists of the Month by Coventry & Warwickshire Introducing, featured in that programme's recent Temperance showcase & performers of a very well received set on the BBC Coventry & Warwickshire stage at the Godiva Festival, this is a band making big waves.
I think we can all be excused a little in arriving at the Rising's party only at this point since they are only relatively recently based in Leamington, having previously been so in their native Belfast.
Still, making up for lost time, I am pleased to report on their brand new single "Endless Summer" which will be out on Friday 2nd August and effectively follows up their ‘Moving On' album already reviewed in this magazine.
As noted previously, The Rising perform music of their own composition & styling and I have discussed how difficult it is to pin that down in terms of genre. The new single doesn't make it any easier by pigeonholing itself either..... I am so grateful to the band for giving me an advance listen but frankly I could sit here until release date trying to do it. They certainly have a deep love of country & to be honest it's in there to some extent..... The sound is very very far from retro country: it owes a great deal to ultra modern R&B pop & like all great summer records is an infectious, catchy earworm with not a hint of the angst of classic country. This sounds very little like Loretta Lynn. Who it does sound like is Chantelle McAteer. When you hear The Rising live or on record, the first and abiding thing you are going to pick up on is the glory of her voice (and of course she co-wrote the song too with Chris Logan) and not only is this the central axis around which the entire song spins, it should also be noted that she has a voice which is going to be cited very often as one of the best now in our area: a really great addition to the many others we already are fortunate to have.
I suppose when I heard the title I thought immediately of the Beach Boys. Which wasn't very helpful as the only thing it has in common with them is the care with which it was made. Instead of the rather mythological songs of that band (they weren't living the lifestyle they were singing about) nor the out of reach 1960s Californian setting, The Rising's record will strike an immediate chord with its listeners. This is real life: hopeful & buoyant but one they can all identify with as part of their own experience.
Something of a loveletter or postcard to their fans, it wishes them all the best for Summer 2019 and indeed if you go to their page, the promotion seeks to include you by canvassing your own summer memories.
It really ought to get substantial airplay (and the band are certainly on local radio radar) and deserves to do well. Catch them live too: they are great!
You can catch The Rising on August 30th at Temperance in Leamington with another BBC Coventry & Warwickshire Introducing Artist of the Month, Loveday.
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