We report back from the first in a monthly series of emerging artist concerts taking place in the UK’s capital
Stepping into the candle-lit surroundings of The Troubadour in Earls Court, for our Discover London showcase with ReverbNation, the scene was set for an intimate evening of live music from four talented performing songwriters. Being the first in this regular series of events, it was difficult to predict how the night would unfold, but the audience was clearly relaxed and looking forward to discovering some emerging artists being surfaced by ReverbNation’s music platform. The venue’s history also provided an appropriate backdrop to the gig, being the first place where Bob Dylan performed in the capital and has hosted many other legends, from Paul Simon, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin to modern stars like Adele, Ed Sheeran and Laura Marling. Could this event provide a launchpad for the next great singer-songwriter to play The Troubadour?
Before a note was played, and between each act, ReverbNation’s UK manager Amy Pinnock took to the stage to offer a warm introduction to the show and briskly present the next performer. Hailing from Los Angeles via Paris, Charlie Jean was the opening act of the night and his Southern rock influences were immediately apparent. Playing solo with an acoustic guitar, Charlie performed his well-constructed, dynamic songs with verve and frequent changes in tempo. His first song, Time For Nothing was the most apparent out-and-out American rock track, but elsewhere there were tinges of INXS, Oasis and even folky, jazzy moments. Before we knew it, Charlie had managed to play nine songs so it certainly felt like we’d got to hear the full gamut of his material.
Next up was London-native Sarah Meth who, for the majority of her set, was joined by a guitarist called Max Margolis. The moment she started singing, Sarah’s angelic, soulful voice really stood out and she delivered each song like a pro – belying her obvious young age. There will no doubt be similarities drawn to the likes of Amy Winehouse and Adele (which female singers aren’t, these days?) but several of Sarah’s tracks offered something a little different in their chord progressions and were at times reminiscent of ABBA. Her lyrics were equally as striking, introducing one song as “another one about the patriarchy” and also managed to show-off her skills at the piano for the last few songs. If the purpose of the Discover London series is to surface talented individuals who deserve to be taken seriously, then Sarah Meth could be the find that provides a big tick in that box.
The third performer of the evening was Thomas Ashby – a 23-year-old songwriter from Kent. Although described in his biog as a ‘multi-instrumentalist’, we only got to hear Thomas on the guitar, but his playing ability certainly didn’t disappoint. Comparisons could be drawn to Jack Johnson and Lindsey Buckingham, the latter especially in his finger-picked second song Ligaments And Limbs. Another influence was made apparent with the third song being a cover of John Martyn’s Solid Air, but it’s fair to say that Thomas has his own sound and one which we enjoyed. And we’re not the only ones it appears, as his last track Torn was previously premiered on Dermot O’Leary’s Radio 2 show.
Last up was London-based Israeli, Uri Sade, who we remembered as a previous winner of Shure’s Songwriting Award. Uri strapped on a Fender Telecaster, turned up the reverb and delivered a set of emotive, melodic songs with noticeably deep lyrics. Second song Where The Wild Angels Meet was filled with metaphors and some interesting chord changes, and a later track Six Strings On A Cross stood out with a lyric that managed to combine “girls in the air” with “binoculars” and “bees and spiders sit on my skin”. Despite the unusual choice of words, Uri’s musical abilities were always at the fore and the quality of his songwriting shone through.
All in all, the first Discover London event took place without a hitch and it succeeded in giving four of the city’s most talented singer-songwriters an opportunity to be seen and heard. We look forward to the next one on Thursday 25 May where we’ll discover the brilliance of April, Rainy And The Dust, Jose Otero and Keren Lindley.
Words: Dan Osborne
Photos: Abner Hofstadler