Written by Steve Carter
Sherry Counsellors, Jesse’s Divide, Daniel John Marsden and Helena Raby: Bad Edit Venue, Burslem Friday 10th May 2013
The Bad Edit Venue in Burslem has the look and feel of an art gallery. Which in all fairness it does double up as. Amid this artistic atmosphere and with the lights turned low, Bad Edit was transformed into an artistic hub with a difference.
First to emerge from the gentle lights of Bad Edit’s stage was Helena Raby and her brand of chilled out acoustic folk a la Laura Marling.
From her first word, the air appeared to be sucked out the room. All conversations stopped. All eyes transfixed and all ears securely focused on Helena.
Throughout every song the sheer quietness of the crowd and their contrasting rippling applause, made the crowd’s appreciation for Ms. Raby’s talents very clear. And these talents are considerable.
With the eerie vocal stretches and innocence of Laura Marling and the whisper and bounce more akin to Oregon artist Laura Gibson, Helena certainly has the voice to fill and control a room.
Added to this is the ability to write songs that perfectly suit her voice. As such her cover of Youth’s Daughter was certainly a low point. But this was only due to the strength of her own material such as opening song ‘Roots’. ‘Roots’ softly floats you through a mix of metaphorical nature and personal turmoil before carefully laying you back home again at the end.
This was but one example of a quality, if short set, for a performer if she continues to write and perform as she did here, will find the sky is the limit.
The same can defiantly be said for the act that followed her.
Although acoustic driven, and also featuring cameos from Helena Raby on glockenspiel, Daniel John Marsden and his band were different from both Helena Raby and anything else I’ve heard.
Whereas most acoustic artists veer towards folk, Daniel John Marsden goes towards the indie but in a unique way, leaving all the indie clichés behind. What is left is a energetic but soft, indie rock songs.
His songs floated catchily from the opening song ‘Forest Fires’ to the ridiculously catchy melodica tinged ‘Lines Tied’ and even his on spin on sing-a-long song ‘Call Me Maybe’, which was almost unrecognisable from the Carley Rae Jepson verson.
Although I feel the sound missed a little edge (maybe using an electric guitar or another band), his sound followed on perfectly from the opening and he has truly unique sound and song craft that it was a sight to behold.
The chilled out atmosphere that had been generated by the first two act was to abruptly shattered by Jesse’s Divide taking the stage.
Jesse’s Divide provided a mix of late eighties hard rock and early nineties grunge powered through their set with a clear confidence and contrl of the stage contrasting the introverted performances they were following.
Minus the very questionable synth which was straight out of over exuberant YES! records of the 1970′s the synergy of their Amercian rock styles is well realised. It should be noted that despite the dodgy sounding synth the well balanced nature of the songs solos and break in songs such as ‘Love Gun’ meant it was only a minor issue.
All being said Jesse’s Divide do what they do very well and had a cold crowd coming off two chilled acoustic artists. This made their ability to get and keep the crowd interested in their all the more enjoyable and was a testament to their songs and their effort (especially their hard hitting drummer).
The headline act The Sherry Counsellors would in many cases just be a standard Indie rock band. In many respects they look like it and their music sounds like it. Yet there is something different and special about the Sherry Counsellors- their front man.
At time’s I felt he was doing a imitation of Kaiser Cheif’s lead singer Ricky Wilson, the tambourine, the voice, even the sideways pose. Had this been the case Sherry Counsellors would not have held my attention long, fortunately it was not.
Instead each song’s vocal style and delivery differed greatly. The Sherry Counsellors songs took you from John Lydon in PiL to Ricky Wilson in Kaiser Cheifs and everywhere in between. Add to this the energetic live performance The Sherry Counsellors are certainly a fun band to see live.
Whereas it is true there is nothing stunning stand out about their songs that would make me run out and want to buy their records or obsess over them, their live performance was both tight and thoroughly enjoyable.