June 27, 2018
Pizza Express Live, Holborn
“We do have a Nine Inch Nails cover coming up”
A set of songs peppered with loss, abandonment and grief might not be what you’d expect to accompany a meal at a pizza restaurant. Luckily, Kate Ellis and her band were out to prove their point that “sad songs are more beautiful than happy ones,” and they succeeded.
Ellis’ pure vocals were accompanied by a guitar, fiddle and even a melodica. The fiddle added a Celtic tone to the songs and sounded especially good in their cover of a Johnny Cash cover of the Nine Inch Nails song, Hurt.
The stage banter lightened the mood, with guitarist Andy Hobsbawm quick to point out that a particularly fine but woeful song, Ones You Love The Most, was “not in any way autobiographic!” He then interjected into Ellis introduction of the next song as “relatively optimistic.” “I wouldn’t go that far!” he joked.
The trio have been busy in recent weeks with appearances at Noshville and Black Deer Festival. Expect to see a lot more of them going forward.
Country and Americana DJ Baylen Leonard took a moment to promote upcoming Nashville Meets London Presents events, including a Thames cruise with Redrospective favourite Liv Austen, as well as the Nashville Meets London festival itself in Canary Wharf on July 28 and July 29.
“Every one of you has made my heart so happy today”
Stage banter was the order of the day for American Young too. Even a happy announcement descended into hilarity when Jon Stone pointed out that two of Kristy Osmunson’s unconnected sentences had merged into one: “I’m pregnant. I’d like thank the boys for that…”
Stone continued to gently taunt Osmunson by ordering a Jack Daniels that she couldn’t drink, while she retorted to explain why she didn’t need it: “I already pee every five minutes.” Well, we’re all friends now! Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take her candour over his Dick Van Dyke style ‘English’ accent!
They continued to spar like siblings throughout the show, with Stone laughing at Osmunson for ordering a vegan pizza with added mozzarella, and her pride over coining the phrase Make America Great Britain Again. There was no denying the warmth between the pair as Osmunson acknowledged “you can get out of jail with a grin like that” and Stone sheepishly agreeing: “I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t!”
This had been advertised as a concert, of course! Luckily there was *just* enough time between the chat to fit in 12 strong songs. They used the setlist as “kind of a suggestion,” but took the performances seriously.
There were deft lyrical observations such as “nobody hangs hard times in the wall” in Love Is War. Their borrowed UK backing band – Phil on double bass and Two Ways Home’s Chris Brice on drums – fitted in effortlessly. Brice added a fitting military tattoo style drum line to Soldier’s Wife.
They delighted the fans with a country shuffle version of of Point of View, sassy wordplay in Cheater Cheater, Osmunson’s energetic fiddle solos, and a lounge jazz style cover of Just The Two Of Us.
Somehow even all of that was topped with a surprise rendition of Cotton Eye Joe! The final cover was simultaneously the least and most successful as Stone dissolved into laughter when he repeatedly forgot the lyrics to Avicii’s Wake Me Up. Osmunson’s was right, that grin covers everything, and it was a great way to close a great night of music and laughter.
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