Charlotte Church @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – Thursday 19th September 2013

Charlotte Church @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – Thursday 19th September 2013Charlotte Church @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – Thursday 19th September 2013Charlotte Church @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – Thursday 19th September 2013

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Tonight it was time for the reincarnation of a choir girl gone bad. From singing for the Pope to singing in the pub-like Wolverhampton Slade Rooms for just under 100 fans, Charlotte Church is back and everyone’s talking about her unique comeback. A strong opponent of the X-Factor, the 27 year old is definitely not trying to get back in the charts with her new 5 EPs. It seems like Church’s comeback is aimed at the younger generation, but there were very few teens in the audience tonight. I think the crowd that turned up tonight were hoping for the Charlotte Church classics like ‘Crazy Chick’ or the brilliant cover of ‘Pie Jesu.’ However complex the guitar riffs or singing techniques used by the soprano singer were, it just didn’t flow as well as it could’ve. For me the performance tonight was like a really good support act that needed a few song covers to flow better than it did.

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The lights darkened and out crept a hooded Charlotte Church who sang the entire first track ‘Like A Fool’ in the pitch black. The never-ending opener did get the crowd excited to a point, as it was all very exciting and dramatically staged but then the lights turned on to reveal a very casual looking Church who just looked very normal and mother-like. In fact, Charlotte was wearing identical clothes to those my mother wears when she does the shopping. It seemed like the wrong choice of outfit for a fresh comeback. Maybe Charlotte was dressing down because she was no longer singing for the Queen or selling out The Royal Albert Hall.

It wouldn’t be fair to judge the entire performance on a choice of outfit. There were lots of positives about the night, like the fact that the songs were being performed at a very high standard (bar the band being told to slow down). I also like how unconventional the songs were. If Charlotte was the support act at an Evanescence gig she would go down very well with the very dark tracks wailed out tonight, such as ‘Magicians Assistant’ and tracks that needed loop pedals like ‘I Can Dream’. Notably there was a lot of technology on the stage, from effect pedals to electronic drum kits and synthesisers, and it all sounded very well put together. In fact I think some of the new material, especially songs from EP 3 like ‘Sparrow’ and songs from EP 2 like ‘Lasts’ or ‘Echaston’ (a song about sitting on a bench waiting for the world to end) would be very good on film soundtracks.

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Most of the songs performed tonight were pretty unnerving, as out of the blue they went from tranquil and angelic to a screeching guitar crescendo in seconds. The highlight of the night for me was the heavy cover of Ultra Nate’s ‘Free’. This got the crowd involved but by the time Charlotte got to it, it was nearing the end of a very strange somewhat disappointing evening with a very talented singer. It must be hard to start again after having the success Charlotte Church has had but I just feel that the comeback has been somewhat half-hearted. The encore tonight was very awkward as it took the crowd five minutes to realise Charlotte had left the stage . Once back on stage I was praying for a happy song but yet again the lights dimmed as a siren played in the background, right on queue a woman lost her balance and fainted, which was very noticeable as you would imagine in the Slade Rooms. And this really summed up the disappointing night.

Should you really eat honey with a spoon or wear jogging bottoms when performing and trying to stage a revival of your career? All the way through the night I kept telling myself at least Charlotte is not just doing it to get back in the charts, what Church has come up with is very quirky and unusual. But unfortunately I love the amazing voice but not the new EPs. You can’t be depressing on every EP you make and get away with it unless you’re Jeff Buckley. Tracks off the successful album ‘Tissues And Issues’ would’ve got the Slade rooms rocking but unfortunately they were nowhere to be found. Please come back to Wolverhampton when you’ve released a jolly EP, Charlotte Church.

Review by John Kirby
Photographs by Steve Roche

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