Sam Green & The Midnight Heist @theoakBath

Sam Green & The Midnight Heist performing at The Royal Oak in Bath

The Christmas lull is done, the office parties are over, the students are back and we’re on the gig scene once more. Our first outing of the year was to The Royal Oak on Lower Bristol Road to see the brilliant Sam Green & The Midnight Heist.

The venue was packed; not difficult on a Friday night, but considering how long it was from everyone’s last payday it was impressive and testament to Sam’s ability to bring in a crowd.

Paul Hopkins playing double bass at The Royal Oak in Bath in January 2017

On this particular evening, ‘The Midnight Heist’ were replaced by a couple of more than able locals, including the ever-ebuliant Paul Hopkins, who showed a double bass is more than an instrument, it’s a dancing partner.

 

Sam utilizes a number of guitar techniques in his performances, some subtle others less so and more blisteringly fast and dexterous, but by far his best comes out when playing lap style and he showed this by dishing out a heap of swaggering blues-folk-roots concoctions. It was an auditory feast for the audience, hearing the blending of guitar and Sam’s soft yet rich vocals, with a peppering of double bass and percussion, all garnished with a helping of harmonica blasts.

 

Sam admitted this was a very rough and ready set, though you could hardly tell and to the audience it was proof of the quality of the musicians, as between songs he briefly informed the band of what they’d be playing next, whispering “…this one’s in A♭” as they began executing another flawless piece.

Some of the songs draw attention to themes like societal obsessions over capitalism, such as in the song “Money“, but without being at all preachy, where as others (most) are a bit more “Let’s get crazy and jump around”.

Sam Green performing at The Royal Oak in Bath

The only annoyance with the evening was that we missed the opening few songs, not by accident, but because past experiences have taught us The Royal Oak rarely start a gig at the advertised time.

That aside, it was a deft display of improvisational prowess on the part of the band and another inspirational performance from Sam Green. If you didn’t see them, don’t worry, you only have to wait till April to see Sam when he’s on tour. No more gigs till then unfortunately.

However, the release of his new solo album is imminent, so watch his page to see when. Even better than that though is the news that preparation has begun for a full band album following the April tour. So there’s a lot for fans to get excited about in the coming months.

Written by @LordSkitch 

Reviewed on 20 January 2017

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@IsobelHolly’s EP launch at @ChapelArtCentre

Isobel Holly headlining at Chapel Arts, Bath, 2016 for the launch of her EP Sensibilities

This was the busiest we’d seen Chapel Arts. All the tables were occupied and quickly it became standing room only. “Sensibilities” is the title of Isobel Holly’s new EP and we went to witness its launch. Certainly, there were a lot of adoring fans present, so in theory this would be something special.

There might have been a touch of nerves present in Harry Miller as he took to the stage in his support slot? The words were a bit muffled in his first song and set off alarm bells for the rest of the set. However, if it was nerves he dealt with them well and by the second more punchy number there was no sign of them.

With the added confidence he backed off the mic a bit and gave us a chance to hear his voice properly, which is soft, husky and made great listening. However it was second to his guitar work, where he displayed an array of techniques and rhythms, marking each song with its own feel and keeping the audience connected.

Harry Miller band performing at Chapel Arts, Bath, 2016
Harry Miller band performing at Chapel Arts, Bath

If Harry has a weakness it could be in his lyrics, which are littered with idioms and cliches, but little story. This aside, he’s pleasing to listen to and if this is how he’s starting, then we can look forward to some great stuff from him in the future.

Recently, you might have seen a picture of Isobel Holly on the cover of The Guide, the Bath Chronicle’s entertainment pullout, with a tagline saying “Meet Bath’s latest singing sensation”. The publicity shots that go along with this article and her website present Isobel well. She’s clearly getting it right when it comes to marketing.

Her online profile says she’s been composing since she was 11 and lists a few career highlights, chief among them being BBC radio airplay and supporting Lera Lynn.

The build up continued with a lot of effort going into Isobel Holly’s set, from a number of supporting musicians and a camera team who seemed intent of capturing her performance from every angle.

It was a varied set, which started with a full band set up, followed by Isobel performing a few duets; first with David Smith, an acoustic guitarist and folk singer and next with Monty Willoughby, a highly versify pianist. The evening was concluded with the full backing band returning to the stage for a few more numbers.

Isobel Holly performing at Chapel Arts, Bath, 2016
Isobel Holly performing at Chapel Arts, Bath

As far as performances go it was well staged, Ed was working his usual magic on the sound desk and Chapel Arts had proved yet again to be the venue of choice for the discerning music connoisseur, but what about Isobel’s music, since after all this was her EP launch?

The songs had often heard themes of love and relationships and the compositions were good, however it was clear Isobel’s true forte lay with her voice, which is powerful, but can have a sultry edge too. Arguably the best moment came when it was just Isobel singing and Monty playing piano. This lead to the question “Does she really need all the other musicians?” as it felt in a way they were masking Isobel’s true instrument, her voice.

There was an underlying school-musical feel to the evening, possibly brought on by a number of choreographed moments, which had a slightly self-indulgent air.

All the songs were nice, but there wasn’t anything which stood out. Yes, Isobel Holly is packaged well and looks the part, but do we really want to hear another conveyer belt folksinger would-be starlet? As the Bath Chronicle put it “Meet Bath’s latest singing sensation”.

Hey, she’s only 16, has talent and has made a good start; the music industry has many doors and they’re all open to her.

Written by @LordSkitch

Reviewed 30 November 2016

Upcoming gigs at Chapel Arts

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Want a gig/venue reviewed? Let us know. Otherwise if you just want to vent your spleen about something (music related) or give praise for a band or venue, do it here or on our Twitter or Facebook pages.