Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Peter Lucas Band, AJ Moore, Cara & Tinlin - 11/02/10

Another bitterly cold night in London and I found myself once again drawn to the Metropolitain to sample the artists laid out for us this week by the lovely folk at P.A.S.
This evening was another packed out night with people bending their heads round the door just to catch a glimpse of the musical treats in store.

Fresh off their seemingly never ending tour of London (their words not mine) the Peter Lucas Band were tonight fulfilling their dream of playing in a room with a fireplace. At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that they will be just another Folk Rock band playing nothing more than you have heard a million times before; this however would be a travesty and as big a mistake as inviting one of the previously mentioned mutant polar bears that roam these parts to meet your mother. The Peter Lucas band seemingly cross genres to give the somewhat tired traditional folk style a much more modern twist, incorporating American indie, and overlaying it with an almost orchestral backdrop provided by the violin.

The nervous energy of Cara was next to grace the stage and with her opening statement that she was 'the most narcasistic person in the room', immediately caught the attention of all those in attendance. The 20 year old Australian has the song writing maturity of someone twice her age and this was reflected in her intricate songs of love and loss, which made her instantly loveable and endearing. definately someone to watch out for in the music press real soon.

AJ Moore provided an interesting contrast as he played his uptempo songs ranging in topics from love to climate change...yes climate change, but thats a story that i'll let him explain to you. His incredibly powerful vocal melodies which at times were reminiscent of Matt Bellamy (of Muse fame) grabbed your attention immediately, and drew you into the heartfelt songs. This is an artist who I feel would have you singing along in a larger venue, leaving without a voice but having gained a massive smile.

Tonight saw the return of Tinlin who played the very first PAS way back in biblical times. Since then they've further honed their already competant songs and are now gaining some real interest from those with the purse strings in music. For those unfamiliar with the duo, first I ask where have you been all this time? Secondly i'll ask you to check them out very soon. Tonight their haunting melodies and tight vocal harmonies had the entire audience captivated, with their onstage prescence making them seem like they were born to do this music thing we all love.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Jamie Abbott, Chloe Blackwell & Kah - 04/02/10

...and so we're back. A little later than planned but the PAS diaries have returned from their extended Winter holidays.

If you battled through the dreary weather and found yourself stranded without a place to go this fine evening then really you should have frequented the Met for another fine instalment of the Portobello Acoustic Sessions.
Tonight saw the artistic talents or 3 fine artists taking to the stage, leaving all those in attendance in stunned silence at the bountiful pleasures they had just received. The night kicked off with a newcomer to the PAS stage; Kah who'd travelled from the darkest depths of Catford to play us her personal take on the dark stylings of Electronica. 'Electronica!?' I hear you say..'at an acoustic night?' Yes.

Kah produced a sound reminiscent of the early ninties Trip Hop classics with much more recent dance twists, painting theatrical scenes of Love, Death and Childhood memories intersperced with spoken word sections which kept everyone glued to their seats.

Second up was Chloe Blackwell with her welcome return to the sessions for a second sitting. Stand out tracks such as 'Brown Eyed Boy' and 'Ain't No Sunshine' (Bill Withers) showcased her R'n'B / Soul vocal sound which was complemented by the more than capable Sam on acoustic guitar. Since arriving in London in 2007 Chloe has consistantly produced high quality tunes that both tug at the heart strings, and suck you into the picture she is painting. Glad to have you back at PAS Chloe.

Due to a cancellation the night included only 3 artists this evening however that in no way detracted from the quality of the final artist Jamie Abbott; who returned this evening accompanied by his trusty band of Cahon and Bass Guitar. This incredibly tight trio produced Blues and Country tinged songs which had the entire audience tapping away in time on the nearest available surface. Such appreciation was shown from those assembled that an encore of the Jackson 5's 'Want You Back' was added to the equation aswell, which left everyone present with something they wouldnt want to forget for a long time.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Kadesha, Samantha Heard, Chris Sheenan and Phil Baxter

It was a night of simple pleasures last time at PAS, with a pretty bare-bones set-up for the most part - by which I mean there weren't any keyboards to lug around or djembes to think about, or, indeed, any mutant polar bear attacks to fend off.  If you haven't seen any mutant polar bears in West London, that's because they have mutated to look exactly like a cat.  It's a strange mutation, I grant you, but one that can clearly be seen if you offer up a Fox's Glacier Mint to what you believe is a cat.  If it truly is a cat, it will continue ignoring you.  If not, it will approach, sniff the mint, and promptly go cross-eyed with the sheer effort of thought.  The half-forgotten memories of those sparkling white wastelands - which, presumably, smell of mint - will send a whole cascade of rushing emotions through the poor little thing's brain, who also has to consider whether to attack your hand now or later - after you've fed it - which blade of grass to chew next, where that damned critter made of pure light that only appears on walls went, how it can annoy you even more than it did yesterday, which ridiculously uncomfortable place to sleep will it try next, whose garden to defecate on this time... and so on.  The brain overheats, which is very easy for a polar bear, considering that it is, unlike a bi-polar bear, ill-equipped to deal with conflicting emotions.  Plus, of course, it's used to colder temperatures.


Newcomer and young 'un Kadesha came with guitarist Len to play her poppy, R&B-inspired acoustic rock.  How old is Kadesha, you ask?  She's 16.  Six...teen...  Huh, you say.  Yeah.  I don't know about you, but I was busy being a tit when I was 16, so it amazes me that someone that young can actually do something good with their time.  The fact is, she does.  Her songs are well-written and brilliantly sung, with a good mix of genres to keep it vibrant and interesting.

Samantha Heard was the lead part of the second duo of the night.  Dual guitars and rocking riffs showed a promise for her usual band setup, and second guitarist Sam - a male Sam, not Samantha - also showed glimpses of excellence.  Samantha's songs are, like I said, a bit rocky, but always with a pop edge, a little like Sheryl Crow, for example, and, while in an acoustic setting they didn't show their full potential, still revealed a whole pantheon of good tunes, superbly written and played.

Chris Sheenan's mostly slow songs are deep and full of feeling, though, I should add hastily, not so much that it becomes dull or bland - nowhere near.  There's a certain beauty in there, an indefatigable impression of resonance with your own thoughts.  Perhaps he's helped by his onstage presence, throwing out comedic banter between tunes, which lightens the mood before plunging you back into introspection and wonder.

Phil Baxter's sweet love songs are, as he says, "Pop jazz funk in an acoustic setting."  That's a pretty good estimation, really, although if you could fit "soul" in there somewhere it would be spot on.  Some of Phil's stuff is like the slower parts of Motown artists' repertoire in terms of feel and songwriting ability, which, I shouldn't have to explain, is a very high accolade indeed.  There's also the occasional Latin influence, like in "What's A Dance Between Friends", but the funk rock element is one that really shows through, the one which gives Phil's music power, rhythm and, most importantly, awesomeness.

Monday, 17 August 2009

The Past Two Weeks. Sort Of.

Now that Time has so unceremoniously dumped me, I've taken on a new mistress. Her name is Procrastination. She's nice and all, but, to be honest, she doesn't really do much. "Let's go out and have some fun," I'll say to her on a cold, wet summer evening. "Sure," she'll happily reply. "Just give me ten more minutes on StumbleUpon." An hour later, she's on her twenty-fifth archive page of lolcats and we're no nearer to the door. I think I'll get rid of her. Just give me one more game of Pro Evo first.

In the meantime, I'll tell you about the recent events at PAS. We had three artists last time: Brad Treeby, Miranda Barber and John Paul Palombo. It was a night of slightly unusual music. Brad's almost scat-like semi-raps over expertly played rock-funk riffs showed him to be a musician with some unconventional style. The fact that The Simplists, the band he usually plays with, utilise a beatboxer for the rhythms doesn't really surprise us, but I bet you they'll stand out nicely.

Miranda Barber's jazzy folk - or, more accurately, folky jazz, for there was a far larger jazz influence - was brilliantly performed by all involved. Flatcap-wearing percussionist and backing vocalist Nick Rye, guitarist Dave Hawkins and backing singer Sian Lattimer all helped the keyboardist Miranda with aplomb. Her music is filled with the kind of happy jazzy notes that fill the world with colour, just like her bright orange dress, radiating happiness and fun in glowing rays.

John Paul Palombo performed music you wouldn't expect from a young, tall, thin white lad. His stuff has a wonderfully vibrant latin influence, mixed with hints of reggae and occasionally veering into the realms of country, with elements of modern pop bands such as The Killers and the Fratellis, though without the incredibly annoying brash and bland style - in fact, precisely the opposite. The band were tight and inventive, despite having only been together for a few months. Expect more to come from John Paul and friends.

Before that, Dan Crook, Murray James and Nick Capaldi & The Spinning Sound-A-Bout played. Dan Crook's beach-bummish style was tempered with the occasional political or life message and rocking riffs, made by someone who clearly enjoys making good music.

Murray James, who's played before at PAS, brought his reggae-tinged deep blues back. Currently making an album - which we are all looking forward to - and playing some promising gigs, it honestly wouldn't surprise us if you heard his stuff soon.

Nick Capaldi's retro folk rock sounds like it's been inspired by both the Beatles and Kasabian, so, as you can probably imagine, it's slightly unusual. Not so unusual, however, that you feel lost with it. The rhythmic strains of guitar and psychedelically-painted keys suited Nick's touched-with-rawness vocals nicely.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Erin Kleh, Siskin, Yuna and The XWhy

The delightfully odd Erin Kleh made an appearance at PAS this past Thursday, leaving behind a whole roomful of dropped jaws and question marks. Who is this girl, then, who sings about ramen, dying rat babies and a sex doll named Olga? Who are her wild, fun-loving assistants, who punctuate the nursery-rhyme-like lyrics with the appropriate actions? And how in all the seven hundred and forty three hells can she do that noise in Oh Well, the one that sounds like some kind of satanic cartoon duck singing merrily on its way to murder some children? I don't know, and I never want to know, but I definitely want to hear more stuff like this, the jolly folky funny kind of stuff which mixes a childish simplicity into real life, turning it upside down and inside out with its sheer eccentricity. In short: truly, madly, deeply fantastic.

Siskin made a return to PAS, the keys-and-guitar playing duo filling in at short notice for a cancellation. An epic brilliance rings through the majority of Siskin's music. The ivories and metal strings pound life into the songs until they almost burst, then relax with a downtempo swerve, never once losing their glamourous aura.

The Malaysian songstress Yuna made an impressive debut. Her softly happy songs are full of sweetness and hope, of good times both past and future. Most of Yuna's songs are in English and she has just that twinge of an American accent, no doubt influenced by whoever taught her. Despite having only played guitar for three years - she's been writing for far longer - all the songs were well-performed and beautifully written.

The XWhy finished off the line up. The usually electro duo strip down for PAS - well, it is acoustic, after all - and now they've got a new member in a backing singer as well. The soulful influence brings a powerful groove, and frontman Jnay's flowing leadership and singing skills, combined with the superbly funky riffs, certainly makes The XWhy stand out from the crowd.