Music at the Bear
Music at the Bear.
It is some time since I had gone to one of the regular Big Help Music's Showcases at the Bear, Rugby, so it was some anticipation that I settled behind a pint to observe and absorb the music on offer. Rachel Cameron, who works in the back office of BHM had spent the day promoting the release of Rheo Elyse Parnell's charity single "Our World" (see separate story). Rachel opened her set with a song which to some extent shares the same message as Rheo's number, in that we all run around in circles achieving very little and doing a lot of damage. In this case we are talking of Roland Orzabal's "Mad World" originally performed by Tear for Fears. With her Dad, Ewan on guitar, Rachel then launched into "Radioactive" written by Paul Rodgers for the British band The Firm, although the more recent Imagine Dragons version is probably better known.
Rachel is a much more confident performer than the slightly nervous girl I first saw a few months ago. Two Christina Perri songs followed, "Bang Bang Bang" and "Bluebird" both illustrated Rachel's beautiful voice and her ability to put over songs of different tempi. Her closing number was a song that dates back to the eighteenth century and I think "The Parting Glass" would be an ideal candidate for Rachel to sing with her Dad's band, Floot Street a five piece, who delight audiences with beautiful traditional music from all over Britain. I look forward to the day when it happens.
Another of BHM's protégés shortly to release an EP is Ffion Rebecca I reviewed a performance of hers only a month ago, so will not expound too much on her performance here. She will be the first to admit that her music writing ability outstrips her guitar playing, so at the moment for most of her set she relies on the backing of Dutch Van Spall, who as well as being an entrepreneur, plays a mean guitar. Ffion's first song an original, "Love Away From Home" probably needs no further explanation, but it does served to illustrate the emotional maturity that this young girl possesses. Equally "Two Baby Birds" shows her observational skills. She is clearly interested in nature and the environment as her third effort "Hidden Beauty" which she tells us she was inspired to write by looking at the stars at night.
There is nothing that enhances the enjoyment an audience gets from a performance more than if the artist really loves the song. Such is the case when Ffion Rebecca sings "California Dreaming" a song that needs no introduction and the first one in her set that she didn't write. It does, however demonstrate just what a clear melodic voice the girl has. Who in their early life has not admired someone from afar, the subject being quite unaware of the affection. Ffion was in this situation there was this boy you see, and she had a massive crush on him. Not confident enough at the time to approach him she wrote "Blue Eyed Boy". Well it worked, they are now an item and have been for some time.
For her next number Ffion deprived Dutch of his precious guitar and took up the 2002 song "Addictive" There was a slight hiatus in the proceedings (this can happen with any live performance) but young Ffion was completely unfazed by this showing tremendous confidence and stage presence no doubt in no small part due her advisors within BHM. Two Christmas songs finished the set, one of which was Michael BublÄ—'s "Grown Up Christmas List" which was delightful. Ffion Rebecca's EP featuring her own songs will be released in February and will be available to pre-order next week.
Lorna Dea, is not only a consummate performer, but a voice coach and a song writing advisor too. It is no wonder, as she is possessed a voice of her own that is not only powerful but displays a beautiful timbre. Another who pens her own numbers, but is not afraid to embrace the music of other artists, Lorna opened her set with a song from the 2006 film Dreamgirls, thus "Love You I Do" rang out to good effect. Another cover was an emotional Kelly Clarkson number "Piece by Piece" about the absence of her father. In contrast Lorna's own song "My King" relates to her own father and how her relationship with her boyfriend affected that. In essence the song says "You can be my prince, but my Dad will always be my king." This coupled with the title track of her EP released "Little Spark" a few months ago proved what a good song writer she is.
A few more covers completed the set, powerful versions of "River Deep Mountain High" and "Son of a Preacher Man" preceded the Shakin' Stevens hit "Merry Christmas Everyone" I heard a radio documentary a couple of weeks ago about Shaky and he was far more than an Elvis impersonator. He had a remarkable life being one of eleven children and was the UK's biggest-selling singles artist of the 1980s. Lorna closed her set with "Rocking Around The Christmas Tree". In my teenage years I was a big Brenda Lee fan. I would buy her LP's without even having heard any of the songs on them. So you can imagine how this song went down with me, - wonderful!
Rheo Elyse Parnell (she uses the stage name Rheo) is not only a beauty, she is a fine singer too. She arrived at the venue having spent all day at the NEC on a stand promoting her charity single which involved all fifty finalists in the "Miss England" competition. You can read a bit more about this in a separate story alongside this one. Rheo tends to embrace more standard songs, or at least those beginning to be regarded as standards.
The approaching holiday could not be ignored and "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas was duly included in the set. This was followed by a real classic "At Last" I have loved this song for decades and it is appreciably older than Rheo herself she makes a lovely job of singing it and as one of the older members of her audience, I appreciated it.
"Spotlight" by Jennifer Hudson and "Dancing On My Own" by the Swedish singer Robyn brought us up to the concluding song of this good and enjoyable set. "If I Ain't Got You" initially by Alisha keys includes the line "Some people live for the fortune Some people live just for the fame" going on to say "But I don't want nothing at all If it ain't you, baby" Which shows considerably less ambition than Rheo displays by virtue of the hard work that she puts in. Her first song in her half-hour set was "Famous" by Nathan Sykes. It includes the line, "But will you call me when I'm famous?" On the basis of her recent performances, she may not have to wait too long to find out.