Mary Spender. The Lantern, Colston Hall.

Never heard her music. Fantastic venue.

Now the 40 gigs project is live I’ve started trawling venue websites to find gigs to go to. Which is how I found Mary Spender playing at the Lantern. The Lantern is the small venue inside Colston Hall (it used to be the bar before the shiny new extension was added) and I’ve seen wonderful gigs there; Saul Williams and Peggy Seeger among them. So for £8 I thought I’d take a punt on Mary. Mainly as her music seemed to defy classification as I found her described as jazz, soul, blues, funk and even rock. She sounds different I thought. Unique. I like that. And I want to support female artists where I can.

I broke my own rule about arriving in time for the support band so I missed Samuel Jack (sorry) and arrived about halfway through Harry & The Gondolas, which was a shame as I liked what I heard of them. I’ll add them to the list of bands to keep an eye out for on the listings.

Then, Mary.  Playing gorgeous, gorgeous guitar and singing like an angel. I felt her voice wouldn’t be out of place in a smoke filled jazz joint with hip cats jiving on tables (but then I had seen La La Land the night before). The guitar licks put me in mind of Rosetta Tharpe. This was blues alright. The standout tracks included a very left field cover version (which I won’t spoil as its only being played live at present) and Blues Duet, which I really liked and pretty much explains itself in the title.

I’d not realised that Mary isn’t signed and so putting on a gig at the Lantern was a bit of a punt for her too. It paid off, the room was pretty much full, and I for one would really like it if the venue did more nights like this with local, unsung talent. What was rather lovely, was that among the thanks, Mary thanked us for being there and supporting musicians simply for the love of music. I was really surprised that she hasn’t a deal somewhere and I hope that changes really soon. A talent this good should be encouraged and heard.

Three down. 37 to go.




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