Live Venue Photography by Cheryl MacDonald
NME Radar tours for emerging bands can be hit and miss affairs. Some bands sink without a trace while others are chart regulars by the time they hit the road. I bought my ticket for this gig way back in February for a March appearance at the Cooler in Bristol. Sadly, this gig was cancelled due to an injury, which apparently, it now transpires, affected her arm.
Luckily, the tickets remained valid for this gig on May 2nd. So it has been a long time coming and greatly anticipated.
Big Jeff was at his customary post again at the front of the crowd when we got there. This was advertised as an early show due to the 10pm curfew and the amount of bands on the bill. First up, Big Deal. Never heard of them before but apparently signed to Mute records.
When they first appeared their set began in a very low key way and their first two songs were shall we say nondescript. However, as the set went on, so their songs got stronger. A fairly sparse sound, just 2 guitars and voices, with a kind of grunge/garage feel to it. Although some of the songs were a bit indie by numbers, it was a pleasant set. Their set included the songs Swoon, Homework and Chair. The NME have a profile of them here. The Bristol crowd gave them a good reception.
After this half hour set we did not have long to wait before the next band GroupLove.
Grouplove are from Los Angeles and Brooklyn, USA and consist of Christian Zucconi (vocals, guitar), Hannah Hooper (keyboards, vocals), Sean Gadd (bass, vocals), Andrew Wessen (guitar, vocals), Ryan Rabin (drums).
After the first band I was expecting another fairly low key band. Even Big Jeff had trouble dancing to the first act! However, nothing could be further from the truth. As soon as the band arrived they were into their stride giving it everything they had. High tempo rock/folk/indie fusion, excellent to dance and sing to and quite frankly a breath of fresh air. The crowd responded and Jeff was in his element!
The energy and and infectious catchy songs this band has are a breath of fresh air. You could not help watching this band and feeling you either just have to dance or collapse feeling the energy expended on the stage. Their half hour set was simply fantastic and I would thoroughly recommend checking these out if you have not heard them yet.
Their self titled EP also sounds good although it does not have any where near the amount of energy that their live performances have. They would be an excellent festival band. Their Colours single is simply a classic.
Finally, and with great anticipation, Anna Calvi arrived just before 9pm and she began the set with the wondrous intro to her album, Rider to the sea and No more words. Her guitar playing is mesmerising as she makes her way up and down the fret board.
The set begins with an amazing sound that fills the room as she plays her way through the notes on her guitar and finally breaks into song.
Her voice starts off quiet and grows into the songs with immense strength. Both the instrumentation of the songs, with the two percussionists and her singing is mesmerising to watch and reminds you of a classical performance.
From time to time She was helped out on the guitar by a guest guitarist to give her injured arm a rest.
The whole set was amazing, she captivated the audience and has a genuinely unique sound. The album, although excellent, really came alive on stage. You really get a sense of the power of her voice and the intricacy of the song writing in a live setting.
The set list:
The Rider to the Sea
No more words
I’ll Be your man
First we Kiss
Surrender (Elvis Presley Cover)
Suzanne and I
Love won’t be leaving
Jezebel (Edith Piaf cover version)
She finished the night with Jezebel, an Edith Piaf song that was her first single. It is a fantastic version of an excellent song, and a great note to finish the night on. When Anna left the stage, she left the crowd clearly wanting more, as many stayed around the stage for while after.
A superb gig.