A respectfully hushed Hare crowd welcomed seasoned singer/songwriter troubadour Vijay Kishore to open the evening’s muse with a mostly newly-penned set of subtly honed songs of innocence and experience. His immediate signature feature is his higher-register sonorous vocals complimented by his dexterous and imaginative use of open-tuning guitar. ‘Chains’ had a Bo-Diddly chugging riff beat that segued into a hymnal ambience with echoes of the Folk/Spiritual classic ‘Let The Circle Be Unbroken’. The open-tuning allowed for harmonic drone phrasing that evoked subtle Eastern textures. Closing song ‘Scintilla’ had an infectious, mantric beat just begging for some counter-rhythmic percussion accompaniment. Unassuming, but focused, an artist whose use of insightful lyricism marks him out as one singularly consumed in the insistent pursuit of honing his craft.
Setlist: Done My Time, Chains, Anybody There, What Ever Makes You Happy, 13 Rounds, Tornadoes, Scintilla.
Dan Whitehouse and band brought an engaging mid-evening set of Celtic-lite, Waterboys like optimism driven by a very punchy bass and heart-warming fiddle playing. The keyboards lent colourful textures and melodic spaces where in DW could hang his vulnerable, cri de coeur vignettes. One number (couldn’t get a setlist) had a delightful Nu/alt Country and Western galloping beat shrewdly juxtaposed by the closing number, an evocative torch ballad that was generously received and punter praised.
Even by 8.30pm, there was an encouraging, good-natured, crowd swell at the Hare in anticipation of a rare appearance by local gal made good, Carina Round, who tonight featured songs from her re-released debut album ‘First Blood Mystery’, unbelievably from a decade ago. It was about that time ago and before that Carina had stamped her inimitable mark with lazy Sunday afternoon floor spots at the legendary ‘Songwriters’ Cafe’ run by the now, The Destroyers, lead maniac Paul Murphy. Epithets such as ‘gut-wrenching’ or ‘howling siren’ (as in the bewitching sailors’ temptresses), whilst not poetic, certainly captured her brain-shivering vocal dynamic. And now? My word, hasn’t her recent US West-Coast sojourns paid dividends.
With her retro-bouffant hair, ballistic backing band and coy apologies for any transatlantic accent leakage she launches in to ‘You And Me’ with its anthemic, frisson flavourings of U2 and Phil Spector grandeur accentuated by Tom Livemore’s fracturing slide-guitar. ‘Motel 74’ opened with a broody riff that had a Hamburg homage to early Beatles ‘Just Give Me That Rock ‘n Roll Music’ that segued in to an intoxicating slow tempo Blues. And, though her voice is somewhat mellower, for this reviewer, at least, does she not subliminally reference such iconic voices such as Grace Slick’s anarchic antagonism or Mary Margaret O’Hara’s vulnerable fragile phrasing. But just for good measure she can raise the rafters with a good dose of Joan Jett bossy boots kick-ass mayhem. So, no lack of tonality, breadth or texture then!
‘Pick Up Phone’ leads with the refrain, ‘Pick up the phone/I’m pregnant with your baby’. Ahem! (Mum, Carina senior, was seated at the left speaker stack so subtle lyrical nuances weren’t going to escape her). It had a ‘Cold Turkey’ visceral edge to it, not surprising, given the subject matter, with snap/nasty brittle guitar chords and disembodied backing vocals. ‘Paris Is Beautiful’ had guitar and bassist (Steve Clarke, Rogue States) swopping some crucial modern jazz grooves and when she announces ‘Backseat’ many a soul went all gooey/misty-eyed nostalgic with its themes of isolation but redemptive healing.
And then look who’s turned up for a hug-fest collaboration! Wonder Stuff wizard, Miles Hunt, who croon-connects with Carina during (I think) ‘4 To The Floor’, a witty dialogue of shared indulgences. The evening climax closed with some decidedly vigorous noise making during the encore-roaring ‘In To My Blood’ ranging from slow-tempo contained tantrums to bad-acid fairground ride psychosis. Cutesy, she’s definitely not. Viva la vox de profundis Diva. A charming night’s entertainment but what else do you expect from Birmingham Promoters’ impeccable taste in artist bookings.
Setlist: You and Me, Motel 74, Girl + Ghost, Pick Up Phone, How I See It, Paris, Backseat, Elegy, 4 To The Floor, Mother’s Pride, Lightbulb, Come To You, Last Time, Into My Blood.
Review – John Kennedy
Photos – Ian Dunn