Jesca Hoop, Natalie McCool, Jay Lewis: Leaf, Bold Street, Liverpool
A triple-header of striking songwriters take to Leaf's seductive surrounds, Getintothis' Alan O'Hare salutes a corking combination of promotion, venue and song-craft.
The perfect marriage of promoter and venue, Mellowtone and Leaf once again combine to bring us another good night of music, atmosphere and people.
The Bold Street hub is packed for a triple header and people pay attention from the start. Scouse troubadour Jay Lewis, local singer/songwriter Natalie McCool and touring star Jesca Hoop are keeping EURO 2012 at bay with songs of strength and heartbreak.
Ex-Cracatilla/La's/John Power man Lewis opens up and heads are nodding to his homespun blues. Water in the Well and the beautiful The Slave Song stand-out and the addition of percussion and bass mid way through the set really liven things up.
Music one, footy nil.
Former LIPA kid Natalie McCool follows and the venue's buzzing. McCool has a good voice and a great reputation. But the tunes lack spark tonight.
A guitarist paints beautiful colours behind her. But the hotly-tipped singer's performance is muted. Intricate melodies meander along nicely enough - but they need direction.
Once she gets the ground beneath her feet, McCool will be fine. She has all the tools. She just needs a few more gigs in front of crowds like this to lift her game.
One-all? Not for long...
Jesca Hoop's guitarist in action at Leaf
Jesca Hoop takes to the stage and immediately captivates the place. With endorsements from Tom Waits and Guy Garvey still ringing in everyone's ears, Hoop is stepping out of those shadows in style.
Accompanied by a backing singer, guitarist/bassist and a percussive dude triggering beats and bleeps, the minimalist set-up works a treat. The star is Hoop's voice: Kate Bush reading the script to Mary Poppins.
There's murder ballads, sensual hymns and, in the devastating D.N.R., some unflinching lyrical couplets. She owns the place and delights in telling us dark (but funny) tales from her Mormon childhood.
This is the real X factor. The ability to take everyone you meet on a journey with you. New album highlight, The House That Jack Built, takes song of the night honours and her writer's eye for detail means we head out into the Bold Street night with a head full of thoughts.
The point of great art. And Jesca Hoop reminded us all tonight what a great artist can do with a few songs.
Jesca Hoop live at Leaf on Bold Street