Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Michele Stodart - Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath, Birmingham. Monday 26th September 2016

Serial gig goers would be hard pressed to see a more impassioned and dedicated performance than what Michele Stodart and her band put on this evening at the Kitchen Garden Café. Throw in an almost mystical chemistry with lead guitarist Raevennan Husbandes and a venue usually the domain of the strictly acoustic melted in a haze of finely tuned folk rock. Spells of acoustic paradise were aplenty, but it was the moments when the controls were turned slightly up that raised the intensity of this show. The enhanced sound which was still sufficiently subtle to embrace the surroundings was aided and abetted by a vocalist exuding such depth and emotion in each chosen song. Michele left a truly favourable impression to suggest even greater levels than currently surmounted as an independent solo artist.

Early into her set, Michele did re-assure the audience that the Magic Numbers were still active with album #5 set to feature soon. However this show was primarily about the two solo albums Michele has put out with an understandable focus on this summer’s release PIECES. With the exception of a new song to open the set, a finale cover of Neil Young’s ‘Birds’ and two new co-writes with Raevennan, the remaining nine tracks to grace the set list reminded folks of the unlimited appeal of her recorded solo work.

The set up for Michele’s headline set after a couple of support slots was the four piece format with keys and percussion adding a valuable touch. Michele herself eased between acoustic, electric and bass depending on the mood of the song and the multi-sparing with Raevennan saw metaphorical sparks fly around the place. Raevennan was showing the full breadth of her talents at this point and confirming why she is so in-demand as a musician highlighted by her ongoing membership of The Moulettes. Of course, like Michele’s current status, Raevennan’s de facto position is a singer-songwriter and grasped the opportunity to showcase some of her own compositions during the second support slot.

The evening started some three hours prior to the blistering finale with a short set by a lo-fi singing guitarist going by the name of WAYLOR who managed to inject some minimalist electrification into a bunch of softly spoken songs. He was followed by Raevennan and her more conventional song delivery. She picked a couple of tracks from her BOX OF INNOCENCE EP including the title piece and concluded her brief thirty minutes of solo spotlight with the number ‘To The Sea’  off her duet album with Tracey Browne. This in effect acted as a mere introduction to her evening input which later emerged into spirited lead guitarist, harmony vocalist and key song writing contributor.

Michele’s headlining set began in solo format before the band joined her for ‘Something About You’ from the new record. Amongst the tracks lifted from the album and transplanted into a live setting was the single ‘Ain’t No Woman’ and the standout tune on the evening ‘Just Anyone Won’t Do’. Check out the links to online versions of both these songs. The pick of the tracks chosen off her 2012 debut solo release WIDE-EYED CROSSING was ‘Foolish Love’, one of the set’s up tempo offerings. Another highlight worthy of mention was the Michele/Raevennan co-write ‘Fall into You’, beautifully sung in harmony and duet.

One overriding memory of this show was the diverse effect of Michele’s ability to infiltrate rock, soul, folk, and even country, styles into her songs. The ultimate effect left an appreciative audience in awe of the startling presentation on offer for a highly reasonable outlay. Shows like this make venturing out on a Monday night totally worthwhile. Full credit to all players, with a final word of thanks to Michele Stodart for sharing the soul of her music in such a truly touching measure. 


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