Emily Barker, Holly Macve & Jade Bird – St George’s Hall, Bristol

Sunday 22nd July, 2018

Another gig in the River Town series. An all female line up. A blend of country, blues and folk. In the beautiful St George’s. Of course I was going to this gig.

Jade Bird was first up and as she came on wearing a bright red boilersuit, which she admitted was probably a mistake in this heat. Before she had even played a note she’d won most of us over with her charm and humour. A youngster who “likes country and blues music” who has a voice that can gently move you or holler like a good ‘un, well she is alright by me. There are a few of her tracks on Spotify, I recommend checking them out. The country influence is there in the storytelling songs, the cheating and the dastardly men. The blues is there in the delivery. Something American, Furious and a new track 17 were highlights. The final track, What Am I Here For? wouldn’t be out-of-place on First Aid Kits latest I thought. If you are a fan of their modern country pop indie then I think you would like Jade Bird. She is funny,engaging and has a staggering voice for someone at the start of their career.

I have always been honest in this blog. I try to be constructive and positive but it would be impossible for anyone (even me) to like everyone they saw play live. I didn’t enjoy Holly Macve’s set. There was polite applause from me and the rest of the audience, but that was all. I found her songs to be very samey (which, if you do it well enough is grand), all blending into each other with no differential between them. There was little to no attempt to engage with the audience (perhaps Holly is very shy?) and I found her voice  did nothing for me. Given that the write up for this gig pegged her as having “devastating emotional delivery” and that she has had airplay from Jo Whiley and 700,000 streams of a track on Spotify, perhaps it was just me. Or she had an off night.

The mood had been up and then down again so Emily Barker had a bit of a job to do to lift it back up. My initial impression was good, especially as she has Lukas Drinkwater playing with her. What a lovely surprise to see him again. He also plays in duo Jacob & Drinkwater who I loved last year and am seeing again in September.

Emily is one of those genre crossing, therefore defying, musicians that I love. There was a wide variation in the tracks she played, from gospel to blues to folk to country to soul. All there and all brilliant. Sister Goodbye, written in tribute to Sister Rosetta Sharp (who if you don’t know, look up immediately) was mournful and sorrowful, More was groovy soul, No 5 Hurricane romantic & forlorn, Over My Shoulder and Dear River full of longing and sadness, Sunrise hip and groovy. All sung with a voice sharp, clear and beautiful. Get yourself copies of her albums. See her play live.

I went into this gig not knowing any of the three artists and walked out wanting to hear more of two of them. That’s not at all bad for £16 is it now?


One thought on “Emily Barker, Holly Macve & Jade Bird – St George’s Hall, Bristol

  1. Don’t forget how abso-flippin-lutely marvellous Emily was for taking a fan request for Pause to close out her set. And yes, I wholeheartedly agree, wasn’t a huge Holly Macve fan either.

    From: the fan in question. 😁


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