Soccer Mommy + Brooke Bentham @ Hare and Hounds

The Hare and Hounds is a favourite little venue of mine, I have been to some amazing gigs over the years and tonight is absolutely no exception. Tonight, we have two artists on offer, one from the UK and one from the USA. Both female, both young and both with huge potential.

First up is the UK’s offering Brooke Bentham. Rarely do I get excited for a solo set, but I have seen Brooke before and I know what is about to happen. Brooke has a wonderful mix of folky-based pop goodness with painfully honest lyrics and a voice that stops me in my tracks every time I hear it.

The room is filling quickly as Brooke steps on to the stage and this is no coincidence. Brooke’s attendance on tonight’s bill has pulled in a fair share of this evenings very mixed crowd. Quietly stepping on to the stage and picking up her Blue Fender Jazzmaster with barely a word uttered the room falls silent and as soon as the first notes ring out, the crowd becomes captivated. Brooke moves through her set playing solo versions of songs that I am used to hearing the full studio versions of and yet they are missing nothing as ultimately the best bits are still in attendance this evening; Brooke and her guitar.

We are treated to a new single Out Of My Mind which as it happens is released today, it’s faster paced, has a bit of angst and is an exciting step forward, with each release there is clear progression of a sound that is being carved out and discovered gradually. More of this please. It’s no secret that Brooke is held in high regard here at Birmingham Live, tonight is further proof that this is praise that is warranted and fully deserved.

After such praise for the opening act it’s time for tonight’s headliner, Soccer Mommy aka Sophie Allison. Tonight is the opening night of Soccer Mommy’s UK tour and a great distance has been travelled from the USA to play for us. The crowd is buzzing with excitement and there are people literally squeezing through the door to try and fit in the room. It’s definitely sold out.

The set is opened with Henry and the crowd are hooked. Everyone is smiling, everyone is moving, all eyes are on Sophie who steals the whole room. Her voice is gentle, her lyrics relatable and her music is wonderfully written indie pop goodness that oozes talent well beyond her years. In between songs Sophie and her band are fun and relatable, even if most of the chatter is about how hot and sweaty Sophie currently is and her need to pee every 15 minutes. This honesty is strangely endearing — so much so there is a random ‘I love you Sophie!’ from the crowd. A ‘No you don’t!’ quickly shut that one down.

After progressing through one of Sophie’s newer songs Your Dog, the three band members leave and let Sophie continue the set solo. It’s a hardly recognisable but wonderfully dreamy cover of I’m On Fire by Bruce Springsteen, there is almost an awkward silence at the end of this song as no one wanted to be the person that cut the last note ringing out short. It’s a beautiful 3 minutes of music. Sophie continues alone until the last song Scorpio Rising which is played out to a big looping distorted solo to finish the set.

The crowd are offered the choice of an encore (she is that polite!) there was no doubt they were going to accept this offer. We are given one more solo song and then all too soon it was over. I was tired and mostly grumpy when I left my house for tonight’s gig, yet I left the gig in a totally opposite frame of mind.

Brooke and Sophie are two of the most talented artists currently on offer, to get to see them both in one sitting was a too good an opportunity to miss. If you are lucky enough to still be able to buy tickets one of the other dates on this UK tour, you really should do it.

Soccer Mommy Set list:

Last Girl
Your Dog
I’m on fire (Cover)
Still Clean
Scorpio Rising


Reviewer and Photographer: Marc Osborne

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