Acoustic Rooms Weekly: 28/01/19

After last week’s incredible jazz night, Acoustic Rooms returned with a week truer to its name. An array of talented singer-songwriters (plus a couple of surprises) took to the stage and were welcomed by an ever-lively atmosphere.

Opening the night was the innovative Josh Leverton, who wowed the crowd with a folky opener which saw him use his guitar and loop pedal to lay down a beat under his impassioned vocals. Josh then explored a variety of sounds and genres throughout his set, including using a keyboard loop to throw hints of RnB into his folk-rock sound, reminiscent of the new Mumford & Sons LP (except good). What stood out about Josh’s performance was his ability to create the vast and enthralling sound of a big band alone with just three instruments.

Following Josh were the duo Stella and Chris. Chris opened the set by himself with a bluesy, baritone cover of Rag’n’Bone Man’s hit ‘Human’, before being joined by vocalist Stella for a series of acoustic guitar-backed moody soul ballads. The pair were cool on stage, often partaking in banter, and gave the room a chilled yet classy vibe.

Equally chilled out yet within a different genre entirely was the rapper Omari Marsalis. Omari dropped a series of spacey jazz rap-style beats and spat honest, nostalgic lyrics over the top. Speaking to Omari after his set, he told me it took him a while to find his old school lyrical style and had spent a long time experimenting with different sub-genres of Hip-Hop. His smooth flows combined with complex and intricate rhyme schemes made for a top-class performance and, he fit the Acoustic Rooms feel with ease. He closed the set with an introspective a capella verse which earned him the entire room’s attention and was met with a huge round of applause.

It was back to normal with the next act, the duo Lost Arrow, who treated the room to a series of easy- going acoustic pop tunes. Their big, anthemic choruses were comparable with post-britpop bands like Shed Seven and James.

Shaking things up again was a big set from vocalist and songwriter Chrisèe. Opening with a cover of Adele’s (Bob Dylan’s) ‘Make You Feel My Love,’ her soul-infused voice took control of all of her keyboard-backed original songs, her incredible vocal ability captivating the audience. Spectators even took part in a singalong of her own song ‘Like a Commercial.’ Another phenomenal young talent, Chrisèe is certainly one to watch.

Picking up the pace was one of my favourites from last week, Henry and Tom from Crooked Lords. They opened their rowdy, foot-stomping set with a country take on the blues standard ‘Sweet Home Chicago.’ The bold guitarwork and edgy harmonica soundtracked a series of badass country songs which rejuvenated the room after the more reflective mood of the previous act.

Familiar faces and songs then turned up as Acoustic Rooms regular Remy performed crowd-pleasing pop classics including ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears and Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’ Later in the set he was joined by singer Holly Fallon for a tuneful rendition of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black.’

As the night drew later, unique singer-songwriter Steven Lai shushed the crowd with several captivating original folk songs. The dreamy, melodic guitar ballads showcased organic songwriting reminiscent of John Denver, whilst his voice had a Paul Heaton-like warmth to it.

The penultimate performers were Dillon and Jamie, the guitarists from the band Post Fiction. Using both an acoustic and electric guitar on stage, the lads played off each other, adding catchy guitar licks to their original indie tunes. The more upbeat songs later in the set had singalong hooks comparable to bands like The Wombats, and gave the night an electric second wind.

Rounding the night off was a highlight from last week, Josh Wheatley, who introduced unfamiliar audience members to his emotionally-charged songwriting and unique vocal tones.

All in all, the night was a highlight reel of some of the best acoustic talent from Nottingham and beyond. A thrilling mix of atmospheric folk, country and pop with occasional sonic curve-balls like rap has become the norm on Monday nights at Rescue Rooms.

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