Review: Jack Savoretti @ The Forum, Bath

"What happens in Bath, stays in Bath," shouts Jack Savoretti to a middle aged man who had deemed half way through Jack's set list a good enough time as any to confess his love to the singer by bellowing his admiration over the quiet murmur protruding from the crowd. It was that time again. Beth and I were stood in a different venue but the same familiar faces of Jack and his band mates stood above us on the stage ahead. Rather than use the approach of separating crowd and artist by a barrier The Forum in Bath had nothing, not even a single human, separating me from the stage. I had my elbows resting against it as I looked up and embraced the sights from the front row.

Three hours previous to this moment I was sat in a car pulling into Bath. We had our cameras stuck out of the windows trying to capture the sun setting over the city as it gave Bath's beige buildings their own golden tint. Every house, cafe and post office looked identical in colour and as we drove through they all blurred into one beige smudge on a canvas. The queue for the bus stop was over twice the length as the queue outside the venue and I was shocked at the excess of people that were waiting to catch a bus home on a cold Saturday evening. The queue for Jack looked measly in comparison but I had faith that people would flood to the venue in no time. Emerged in deep life chats, which happen to be the only thing to ease the wait of gig queueing, my attention was fully elsewhere until I turned around at 6.15pm that I noticed the queue had not only grown but that it had twisted it's way around the side of the building.

After being let inside we were met by some of the most beautiful architecture I have seen to date. The inside of the auditorium resembled an old fashioned theatre and patterns lined the walls in shades of blue. The ceiling was a sight to behold and I often found myself so distracted by it's chandelier appearance that I almost fell unaware as the house lights went down. Support act Earl had travelled from Alaska and emerged from the stage door with a collection of pearls around her neck. She took her place at a keyboard looking as if she had walked straight from the screen of an old fashioned, silent film. However, any images of silent movies were shattered as soon as she opened her mouth. Despite her strong vocals filling the entire room it appeared as if she was was conveying this emotion to just one of us rather than the assemblage of hundreds of peering eyes. She had so much energy surging through her that the connection she had with the crowd caused silence rather than the usual chatter of voices that fill the time between the main act. In between songs she launched numerous copies of her EP's and a T Shirt into the crowd for lucky receivers to squabble over. By the end of her performance she announced that she wished to pick up the entire audience and place us in her pocket so that, whenever she happened to feel down, she could open it and we could shout cheers of encouragement in the same way that we did to each song that she performed.

At 9, everyone was in place other than Jack himself. His band members had taken position behind their instrument of choice. The Spanish/Italian style interlude of Written in Scars that marks the start of the eponymous track from his new album as it begins to play. The room, packed full of members of Jack's close-knit fan base, allow cheers to be reciprocated right up to the rafters.

Across the hours Jack sailed through a charismatic set complemented by his raspy voice, a selection of guitars and the added accessory of a tambourine at his disposal. Each of his songs showcase some of the belters of his four albums, the majority being from the most recent of the two. As with every show of his I've encountered to date, he was left to conquer the stage solo part way through in order to share an anecdote about song Nobody 'Cept You and how he insists it was the song to save his life. "I wasn't standing on the edge of a cliff or anything," he announced. "But emotionally- I was pretty screwed up. This song sort of put me in place." As he went on to sing those listening tended to react in one of two ways. It was the perfect mixture of those chorusing the lyrics back at him and those who were left silent in both admiration and apprehension. They allowed the words to effect them in the same way that they had effected Jack as he first encountered them all those years ago. He smiled coyly at those in front of him and seemed unable to get his head around the concept that he had managed to fill the room with people that were there to see him perform.

Other favourites were Not Worthy and Knock Knock from penultimate album Before The Storm and tracks The Other Side Of Love and Sweet Hurt were met with a roar of complete and utter approval. Tie Me Down was greeted with laughter as Jack insisted that, despite the opinions of foreign journalists, the song was not based of Fifty Shades of Grey. With each song the prestige each audience member had for the Italian-Englisher grew and time and time again he found himself greeted with what can only be described as rapturous applause. A reception he was clearly chuffed with.

Jacks success will continue to grow off the back of his new album and I left the building with his setlist in hand feeling reassured that my third encounter with Jack will not be the last.


Review: The Crookes @ The Globe, Cardiff

an action shot to beat all action shots
An album called Chasing After Ghosts was an album that helped me to my feet both literally and mentally. I came across The Crookes three years ago on an unfortunate sick day from school where, with a mound of both duvets and discarded tissues, I stumbled upon their spotify page. Now, when I say a sick day I mean I felt as if I had been physically glued to my bed and that my limbs were incapable of anything other than remaining static. Yet, as I clicked the shuffle button on their first ever album and the beating of a drum replaced the bleak silence I had been sat in I felt almost revitalised. A song called Chorus of Fools filled the empty air and it was the kind of song that it seemed a crime not to dance to; so that is exactly what I did. I twirled around until the feeling of dizziness overcame any illness within and I went on to loop that same song for the remainder of the day. So that is why seeing it live this month was, for me, on a whole new level of cool.

I can honestly say as I stood in a small venue in Cardiff and heard those opening drum beats to Chorus of Fools I was whisked right back to that one moment. The fairy lights that lined the walls around me and the blur of people all took little priority as I enjoyed that one moment of invisibility. That one moment that allowed me to travel back in time and remember discovering a band that have never failed to get me up on my feet.

On February 18th, indie rock band The Crookes were met with what I would have described as an extraordinarily small crowd. I've had my fair share of small gigs but the inhabitants of this venue consisted of barely enough people to fill a school assembly hall. Throughout support act Misty Miller nobody seemed to want to be the one to make the first move and step towards the stage. Fortunately, Misty filled the uncomfortable gap at the front of the room with incredible vocals. After notifying us that her band were stuck in traffic she took to the stage alone and shocked us all with a voice that was enough to cause anyone to choke on their drink - including my brother. She had such power and control that, despite being a penniless girl out to see some live music on a windy Thursday evening, even I couldn't refrain from handing her my five pound note in return for her latest EP. I had to go without a drink for the rest of the night but it was a small, worthwhile sacrifice that now means each morning can be filled with her songs once more.

At 9.30pm the four Sheffield lads that make up The Crookes took to the stage. Opening up with track 'Where Did Our Love Go' from their album Hold Fast there was very little I could do to prevent myself from singing and dancing along in time (but not quite in tune). They followed this with songs 'Maybe In The Dark' and 'Sofie', each of which start to receive more of an enthusiastic reaction from those in the room. It quickly became clear that The Crookes are a band that are not only consistently releasing an extensive amount of good music but a band that can kill a live show. I still question why they are yet to receive any widespread acclaim for taking on the music industry with their instruments in hand and giving it one hell of a a kick up the backside.

The rest of the setlist consisted of a selection of songs across all of their various albums. This included old favourites like Backstreet Lovers and a large chunk of their newly released album Lucky Ones. 'When You're Fragile' and 'Play Dumb' representing album Soapbox were both punchy and bursting with life. Misty Miller also returned to the stage partway through the sixteen part setlist to assist performing beautifully written B-side 'Ex-Lovers'. Band frontman, George Waite, claimed the stage as his own and I often watched in wonder as his long blonde mop featured as much action as a television hair commercial. George, alongside Dan, Tom and Croftsy, were not afraid to let lose as is clearly demonstrated in the action shot above. Each of them could plainly feel a connection with what they were playing and sweet serendipity meant this could be shared with every single one of us.

If you ever find yourself with the chance to experience The Crookes both live or through your computer screen I urge you to grasp it with both hands. I will continue to long for people to listen until this four-piece are playing sold out shows in the large venues that they deserve. Even if that means that, as I did in Cardiff, I won't be able to have a casual chat with them at the merch stand following the show I will still long for people to open there ears to what is a truly infectious sound complemented with song writing that would put us all to shame. In saying that, if they continue to play these intimate shows there is nothing that will stop me coming back again and again for more.

As The Crookes say in their track 'Outsiders', "everyone you love will leave you in the end". But not good music. Good music stays with us forever.