Sunday, 9 December 2012

Laurie Levine - Bridge House Theatre Warwick Saturday 8 December 2012

Having reviewed Laurie Levine’s latest album SIX WINTERS a couple of weeks previously, the opportunity to catch one of her live shows, on this her inaugural UK tour, was not going to be missed. So it was a return to the Bridge House Theatre in Warwick which was also the venue for the first gig of the year in January when they hosted Canadian singer-songwriter, Ruth Moody. The theatre, located within the exclusive Warwick School, has started to showcase a few folk and roots artists with the added bonus of hosting shows on a Friday and Saturday night, evenings which most venues restrict to pop and rock acts. Therefore the scene was set for Laurie and her musical partner, Jessica Lauren to demonstrate live what extremely fine artists they both are.

Unfortunately the counter attractions of a December Saturday night impacted upon the turnout but in a positive way the re-location to a makeshift stage in the foyer added to the intimacy of the show and like true professionals both musicians gave exemplary performances of their creative talents. It was quite remarkable that South African Laurie had only teamed up with UK based Jessica in the last couple of weeks as their onstage presence came across as seamless thus enabling Laurie to give a more effective and rounded rendition of her music.
Spread across a couple of roughly 45 minute slots, Laurie set out to offer a mix of songs from the latest album, her previous recording LIVING ROOM and to introduce a series of new material that will surely be featured on any future release. After opening with a couple of these new songs, Laurie soon launched into some of the standout tracks from the SIX WINTERS album. The previous album review had earmarked the title track as a superb number and its live airing didn’t disappoint along with the wonderful ‘Beautiful Loser’ and ‘Where Have You Gone’. Throughout these songs, Laurie switched between her acoustic guitar and banjo, effectively supporting her distinct vocal style that was such an appealing component of the album. Out of the new songs previewed in the first half, ‘Everyman’ was the one which made the greatest initial impression.

After the interval, Laurie resumed with the SIX WINTERS opening track ‘Oh Brother’ before focussing  a little more on her older album by featuring the impressive ‘Kites’, ‘Advance’ and ultimately closing the show with ‘Tonight’. The between-song banter increased in the second half possibly after adjusting to the slightly surreal surroundings. Earlier in the show Laurie had intimated to her country/Americana influences and true to her beliefs she included the slowed down version of ‘Ring of Fire’ after the break. Having previously listened to this recording on the SIX WINTERS album, it once again re-confirmed a view on how a cover should add value to the original and this one definitely does.
While the focus of the show was very much on the musical output of Laurie, a special mention needs to be reserved for Jessica. This multi talented musician with a jazz/blues/world music background contributed keyboard, harmonica and auto harp amongst others to give the show a more authentic roots sound as well as providing backing vocals. You never know on a future visit a touch of dobra and lap steel may be added to enhance the timeless country and Americana feel to the live performance of these fine songs.

This penultimate show of the tour may not have had the greatest turnout but this initial visit has been about spreading the word. Laurie Levine is a new name to most people on the UK circuit but she has been a very welcome visitor and hopefully will continue to cultivate her presence in this country. Her talents have been well appreciated and generally the reviews have been positive. We look forward to enjoying more from her in the future.


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