Tuesday, 12 November 2019

GIG REVIEW: The Remedy Club + Hope in High Water - Kitchen Garden, Kings Heath, Birmingham. Monday 11th November 2019

The Remedy Club
A quick check in the gig archives revealed it was only February and April last year when Hope in High Water and The Remedy Club respectively made their last visits to the Kitchen Garden. Maybe the crazy amount of gigs in the intervening period made these shows feel a lot longer ago. Roughly eighteen months since both duos last dropped into Kings Heath has seen developments move quickly to the point where one has a new album, and the other will not be too far behind on the evidence revealed during this appearance. This gig was part of a run of dates arranged in liaison with the Fish Records operation, key drivers in helping both acts get wider recognition around the UK.

With the pre-gig promotion seemingly evenly balanced, it could have been a toss up to who took centre stage, but it eventually panned out that Hope in High Water opened proceedings with an extended fifty-minute support set. This left The Remedy Club with around half an hour extra following the obligatory short interval to give folks a glimpse of what they are about.

A chunk of this extra time was given over to covers, but the Irish duo of Aileen Mythen and KJ McEvoy have a subtle and smart way interweaving the work of others into their set. Covering Lucinda Williams' 'Can't Let Go' followed a link of both artists working with producer Ray Kennedy, while it was only going to be appropriate to share a Hank song after The Remedy Club's own tribute to the effect of the great man in 'Listening to Hank Williams'. Celebrating the work of Elmore James reflected the duo's own blues-inspired past and who can knock an Irish act paying respect to Rory Gallagher.

Hope in High Water
While comparisons in set up were on the surface, you only had to dig a little deeper to uncover the contrasts. First up, Hope in High Water, the performing name for Josh and Carly, hail from Milton Keynes and are now in the phase of promoting their second full album release. BONFIRE & PINE is literally only days old, but like so many releases, it had been a long time in the run up between owning the songs and ultimately sharing them in a recorded format. Starting their set with the album opener 'Healed', they went on to play the title track, 'It's Over Now', 'Pray Away', 'Grenfell' and a few others during their allotted time slot. The penultimate one of this quartet has emerged as an early front runner in being the album pick, while the latter possesses an emotive strength to push forward the social commentary side of their writing. It is ironic that 'Grenfell' was released in the same week as another song about this tragedy, 'The Fire' written by Jamie Freeman and Ben Glover, gained an AMA UK song of the year nomination. Adversity does inspire important song writing and Hope in High Water's effort possesses equal credibility to the widely acclaimed other composition. 

Maintaining the contrast theme, Josh and Carly give their whole operation a greater roots sheen than their touring colleagues, to the extent where they dig quite deep for song inspiration. They represent a slightly introspective 'from the ground up approach', appropriate to the lifestyle they candidly share with live audiences. Every ounce of recognition received pays dividends for choices made and they are the epitome of a DIY stance to making music, plus a sign of a grass roots scene being in rude health.

The Remedy Club are a far more expansive duo. There is showbiz tinge to how they present their music, fired through Aileen's theatrical background that seeps into the way her vocals are projected. Likewise KJ's extrovert guitar skills pepper a series of songs resonating with serious hooks and more than a nod in the direction of popular appeal. These styles do manifest into creating an imaginative and memorable live show leaving those caught in their midst searching for a little more in the aftermath. This latest sortie across the Irish Sea sees the duo armed with some new songs that will form a new album release in the near future. One of the new songs has just been released as a single with 'True Hand-True Heart' invoking more than touch of invited audience participation. The true gem from the upcoming batch was 'Sweet Symphony', indicating that 2017's LOVERS, LEGENDS AND LOST CAUSES will be joined by a worthy follow up. However, this album may not be ready to give its mantle up yet as exemplified by fine performances of 'When Tom Waites Up' and 'Bottom of the Hill'.

Factors may deem that this evening's gig at the Kitchen Garden in Birmingham quickly fades into the memory as both The Remedy Club and Hope in High Water strive for some some level of plateau their music warrants. Yet there was something true, organic and connective about a show that may only live on in the virtual world of this site. Diamonds in the dust come from unlikely places. 


Bonfire & Pine available here


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