November 11th 2014
Denmark Street is a mecca for musicians and last night I was back on it’s hallowed ground. Not to purchase a guitar but to see some live music at the infamous 12 Bar Club. Although I’d stepped inside this venue during the rolling daylight hours, I had never seen live music on the doorstep of it’s beating heart…but what a night I chose!
The night started with Echo Wants Her Voice Back; the reason why I was there.
One night can make a huge difference to your spirit…..
Tonight, Echo Wants Her Voice Back was joined by charismatic guitarist MaW who sat tuning his guitar on the stage of a venue that takes you back in time, into a time when human interaction and conversation evolved around a knowing atmospheric invitation to a porthole straight to the centre….of your soul. I kid you not. This venue is magic….and as Echo (Eleni) walked onto the stage that’s exactly what you felt…..an air of magic. Is it the venue that intices the performer into a higher state? Echo Wants Her Voice Back started the set with a song called ‘Troy’ which had a vocal to die for. With a rich and melodic vocal line Eleni cut the silence with a knifes edge of intonation…she had the audience hanging on her every word and with MaW providing a cool, calm and collected back bone and intricate guitar technique, by the end of the first song they had won the hearts and minds of us all. As the set progressed I began to realise that Eleni’s story telling within the songs was truly captivating. As a lyricist, Eleni wraps herself around you; lyrically weaving her words with both precision and passion. The first song, she sung the words “Destroy Me!?” ……if anything after that tune we were a pile of egos heaped on the floor, our bones and and flesh left raw and real as she shed us of all bravado….
Eleni captures your attention with a confidence that she has arrived home. She really commands the space she is in and as the music played I couldn’t help but think of Radiohead…and the lyrics… Everything in it’s right place…
Intensity, passion, focus, humbleness, boldness, tenderness, expression, love and respect. These words, these things are contagious. They can ignite a flame within us, re-ignite a dying flame or fuel the one that is already lit. This is what happens when you connect the right venue, the right setting with the right artists and a willing audience…. Eleni oozes these words from the essence of her performance and song. The tenderness and control is heart felt from artist to audience. Throughout the set Eleni and MaW pulled us closer in with songs such as ‘Dear Man’, ‘Wizard’, a Greek folk tune and a amazing cover version of the infamous song Jolene.
Echo Wants Her Voice Back wasn’t missing her voice tonight. It was in full flow, powerfully communicating emotions through the art of songwriting and performance. I always like to look around at the audience and other peoples reactions and what I saw was a pure connection, a soul connection where music is the vessel.
The 12 Bar Club as described by Great Little Place: “It’s a haven for those who live, love and breathe music..” and that is exactly what we had with Nick Africano from Brooklyn USA who was next up. This was the third time in the UK for Nick, so for me it was third time lucky. One sign of a great artist is this…. they capture you in their world. Their world becomes a mini universe where we all exist in this crazy and often boiling pot of emotions. From the beating heart of Echo Wants Her Voice Back, with one pluck of his steel string guitar we were sucked hyper speed into the wonderful world of Nick Africano. He started the set with a song called ‘Capture’ and sung the words: “It feels like rains gonna come… to capture the heart of a place.. return to the start of a place” …and Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha!?? or whatever…. Nick offered us his soul from a one man ship that was set to sail. We were instantly captured and taken on board this voyage.
With a raw and wild vocal Nick was ripping through songs of heart and soul like a ship cutting through the ocean waves….Nicks songs are like a call to action. They entice belief and hope and you can’t help but be part of this live exploration.
One of the highlights for me was a song that sung the lyrics… “At the end of every hard earned day, people find a reason, everyday find a reason to believe” Nick Africano creates a world where you don’t want to leave… through his songs he builds your moral and in the words of Bob Marley, I would almost say Nick Africano writes ‘songs of freedom’… ..through his art and performance he frees and empowers the spirit. He gives us that reason to believe because he believes. He connects his soul to music and then meaning to the souls of others. At the end of the gig I asked about a CD and he offered me one for free. I said.. “I don’t believe in free music..” and paid him a tenner. Please take note when reading this. If you are at a gig and ask a performer for a CD and they offer it you for free, please pay for it. A lot of artists are humble and often do this. If you are inspired by something, pay for it, although in hindsight I do think £12.00 seems more realistic for 10 song CD.
Nick is on tour in the UK over the next few weeks and I would advise to seek him out while you can at the following dates: Follow this link!
After two artists I thought I was done here but then Tony Andrews entered the stage. Nick Africano and Echo Wants Her Voice Back had a very strong visual presence, in style and sort of suggest something interesting is coming without even singing a word. Don’t get me wrong here, but the t-shirt and jeans worn by Tony was a dress down to the stylistic performers that went before and this shouldn’t impact your impression on what’s to come but it did and i think that added to the whole thing! …in his t-shirt and jeans, sitting on a stool Tony looked very unassuming but once he aired the atmosphere with his personal blend this unassuming guy turned into “What do we have here!?” After two outstanding performances I thought the night had peaked but I was wrong !
Three outstanding performers in one evening? It took two songs and then I knew I was there for the rest of the night. I was again taken into another world, a world led by an inspired and relentless voice of rock and roll proportions but with a humble and unassuming personality that slowly but surely grew from strength to strength …..that gob smacked me with a surprising left and then right hook. Tony Andrews delivers songs with simplistic lyrics and these lyrics are the vehicle for a relentless and awe inspiring voice which led to some awe inspiring songs and one hell of a performance straight from the gut. Half way through the set I even saw a resemblance to Elvis! But Tony doesn’t shake you by twisting his hips but by the consistency of a unique and raw voice with a raw honesty driven by raging raw passion. The more I stood and listened, the more I was rocketed into respect and applause. By the end of the set I was singing along to his tunes and I thought where did this come from? A night of three completely different artists that blew me away with authenticity through their voices, songs and performance. Tony Andrews was like a crescendo and ended the night on a high….a strong finisher to a high calibre night of raw creative expression. Keep music live and thumbs up to the 12 Bar Club.
This really was a night of inspired music in an inspired venue.
You can see both Echo Wants Her Voice Back and Nick Africano perform at Kensington Roof Top Gardens on Saturday 15th November – Join the event = highly recommended
Article by Brendan Poynton
People with a Purpose | Music with a Mission