Grapevine at Bedfords, 6th Anniversary, with Paul Mosley, Freya Roy, and Joel Sarakula, 18th September, 2013, review.
I have only recently become a regular of Steve Howlett’s excellent Grapevine nights at the beautiful Bedfords. I feel a right fool for missing out on so much great music here but in my defence I was rather off the scene for a while, though am making up for lost time now!!
Tonight was its sixth anniversary, and before the musical proceedings started, there was a lovely presentation from the new owner of Bedfords, Glen Carr, with a short speech praising him and how impressed he has been since he took ownership 15 weeks ago. It’s a measure of the esteem that Steve is held in that audiences, bands and artists, and the bar owner and team love and respect him so much. Applause echoed from all corners of the room, a lovely touch from Glen and the team.
First to play tonight was yet another artist I was hearing for the first time this evening, thanks to Steve. His name is Joel Sarakula, a young man originally from Sydney with a great style and a lovely person too. Distinctive with something of a 60s look and black fedora it was a pleasure to watch him listening to the other acts soundcheck and doodling whilst doing so. When he took to the stage he held the audience rapt, playing with great skill and enthusiasm, his piano led songs with wonderful stories sung over, it was a real delight and a hugely enjoyable set. His sound definitely has some 60s and 70s touches, probably because the songs are so strong on melody and an with easy singing style. I am listening to his CD (The Golden Age) as I write, and those infectious melodies and hooks are present in abundance, a fine album and artist.
Freya Roy is an artist I have seen several times and a major young talent. Now 17 years old, she seems to have gained a greater assurance and confidence in her live performance. One again Stuart was dong a fine job on the sound, and the attention to detail getting this spot on really was a move that paid dividends. Freya using her loops and pedals gave what is definitely the best performance I have yet heard from her. Showcasing some newer tracks – which will be available on her forthcoming EP at the end of the year – she introduced them with background stories and sang absolutely beautifully, whilst seeming to play almost effortlessly. Lovely and impressive.
Earlier in the evening I had the pleasure of watching Paul Mosley and band setting up and soundchecking, a pleasure because this was a band who took obvious joy and satisfaction from the act of playing music, rarely have I enjoyed a soundcheck this much. Paul himself seems to be a great character with a quickfire wit, ad-libbing and smiling his way through the set up.
During the set itself however, we were treated to his storytelling and beautiful voice, backed by an amazingly accomplished band, featuring acoustic bass, fiddle, bassoon, oboe and clarinet – if memory serves, whilst Paul was singing and playing piano, apart from the last song for which he played ukelele in the audience!
“A Chattering of Birds” is their new album, which I have only heard once so far but am massively impressed by. The songs within deal with a wide scope of subjects, some of them quite dark, but the set is only uplifting. Paul is incredibly witty and regales the audience with stories between songs. “This is a song about the differences between my home town of Hartlepool and my current city of London. It’s quite a long song”! Lovely. A joker he may be, but during the songs he is a consummate professional, he is blessed with a wonderful and expressive voice and a marvellous band. One I will definitely see again if they hopefully return to Norwich again soon.
And so the end of the evening came around all to soon, but not before another heartfelt round of applause for Steve. What a lovely venue this is and the atmosphere is truly special.
More photos to follow, and possibly a video or two as well.
words and photos (c) all rights reserved, richard shashamane, 2013
Many thanks to Steve Howlett and Glen Carr