Posts Tagged With: Lucy May

Gig Review: Striking Matches – Union Chapel, London – 8th May 2015

It was only two months ago that I last saw Striking Matches, albeit for one song, at the CMA Song Writers Series as part of Country To Country at The O2, and here they are, back again. Last night they were supported by Lucy May who I knew nothing of before the gig, and she didn’t leave much of a mark on me. She has a good voice, but her whole act is just unremarkable, and for someone who has been around for a few years, she has little in the way of stage presence. She seemed to get a good response for the crowds, so she’s pushing the right buttons for others.

Striking Matches themselves came on with a band, adding a drummer and bassist. This had me worried straight away, as their recent debut album is also with band, and has a more produced and less organic sound than the acoustic maestros I’d come to love. Straight away it was evident this was going to be a very different show to to the one I saw at The Borderline last year, and the two times I caught them at Country in Country in 2014 also. The drums were set up way to loud, so much so that they drowned a lot of the guitars from Justin and Sarah, the latter whose mic was set up too low and made her vocals really hard to hear. Four songs in and their passion and endearing personalities kept me interested, but the new full band set up just wasn’t working.

Striking Matches at Union Chapel London, May 8th 2015

It was at this point that the drummer and bass player left, and on stage with just their acoustic guitars were Sarah, Justin and the kind of performances that I had been hoping for. They were joined for one song by a guy I hadn’t heard of and can’t remember the name of (shoddy reporting I know) for one song, and then The Shires joined them to sing I Ain’t Leaving Without Your Love, a song that The Shires cover at their live shows. This worked really well, and after not seeing The Shires for 12 months, it was clear to see that a once nervous Crissie is perfectly at ease on stage now. It was during this acoustic stage that we were treated to some of the guitar wizardry that they have become famous for, and definitely got the biggest reaction of the night. When the Right One Comes Along was beautifully performed, with lots of crowd involvement, and resulted once again in an emotional Sarah Zimmermann.

Unfortunately, for me, it was then time for the drummer and bass player to return, and back to not hearing Sarah’s vocals and parts of the guitars. There was one specific part where Sarah was laying out some great looking slide tricks, but the drums came in at such a crescendo, that we could only watch, as the sound of her guitar was drowned out by the percussion. The gig ended with an acoustic cover of Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling In Love, which was the perfect way to finish.

Striking Matches with The Shires at Union Chapel London, May 8th 2015

It was a fractured set, with Striking Matches themselves seemingly knowing that people want the acoustic material, and they themselves wanting to play it, but having it sandwiched between the full band sections making it all feel a bit disjointed. I suspect that they have been told that too further their careers they must go with the full band sound, but with their hearts lying with the acoustic they truly love. I could be completely wrong on that, but it’s their acoustic sound that makes them stand out as something very special. It didn’t help that the set-up was all wrong in places, and maybe with less drums and an audible Sarah, it’s very different. They are back in November and I will probably end up going, as the acoustic parts and their personalities are so good that they make it worth the trip – I just hope we get more of them, or at the very least a decent sound set-up.

On a side note Union Chapel is a gorgeous venue, and seeing their shadows dancing on the walls of the building added a great deal to the atmosphere. The only downside are the hard wooden pews – could have done with prayer cushions to sit on. The king of gig photography Flex has published online some exceptional photos from last night which you can see here.

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Dexeter – A Year On for One of UK Country’s Finest and The Album Launch Party

Friday July 3rd 2015 – mark that date in your diary, as that’s the day the long awaited Four Thousand Miles to Nashville launch party takes place. With support from Lucy May and Liv Austen, Dexeter will take over The Barfly Camden and tickets can be bought here. Anyone who has seen Dexeter live, or heard of their legend, will know that this is a show not be missed. Remember, this is the band that got such a crowd of people at Country To Country 2015 that the entrance to The O2 was blocked!

Dexeter Album Launch Party

It’s been quite a 12 month period for Dexeter, who turned up at Country To Country 2014 with little fanfare and almost no public awareness. It was on the Sunday that I got a tweet asking where I was, and on meeting up I met the band the for the very first time, and was given a copy of their first album/EP, Brighter Skies. A couple of months later, after being suitably impressed with their music, I went to Rockingham Racecourse to see them perform live. That was the turning point and since then I’ve been a big fan and got to know the band quite well. Do not fear, my friendship does and will not interfere with my objectivity, and any reviews of their music or performances are and will never be positively biased in any way. That would make a mockery of both myself and the band.

Disclaimers aside, as 2014 rolled on more opportunities opened up for Dexeter, as they performed at big festivals such as Yee Haw and Fort San Antone Fest, while supporting 2 UK country juggernauts The Shires and Ward Thomas on their first co-headline tour. Tales of their great gigs and music began to make waves online and their fan base grew exponentially, as they became the unofficial people’s band of UK country music.

They kicked off 2015 with an afternoon slot at Midwinterfest in Devon, before driving back to London to perform at Hannah Jane Lewis’ EP launch at The Borderline. In this time they also launched a Pledge Music crowd sourcing campaign for their second album, which was funded in under 4 days. You can pre-order the album here, which has the marvellous title Four Thousand Miles to Nashville – probably an homage to some literary genius admired by millions 😉

Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015

It was also in 2015 they took on the management services of Annette over at Think Country, and have gigs lined up with the likes of Honey Rider, Sasha McVeigh and Sonia Leigh, Paul Carella and a return to the Fort San Antone Fest in October. I caught up with principle songwriter and guitar guru Gareth after their gig at Country 2 Country, and asked him about the experience:

So C2C2015… What an incredible experience! We actually arrived at the O2 a little later than the previous day, found some breakfast and pondered the day ahead. We had noticed a little movement around Twitter so we were expecting maybe 30 or 40 people to meander past us and see what was going on. We sat in the town square for about two hours and were really beginning to worry about it.

After some strong coffee we gathered our thoughts and our belongings and headed backstage to collect our instruments and warm up – Dee was terrified she had forgotten every single lyric. We hustled through the crowd to the stage to see most of Emma Jane’s incredible set – her performance set the bar really high. When she finished we began to set up and noticed people drifting towards the Big Entrance stage, so staring only at the floor we began our first song. As we hit the last chord of Something Gold the entire atrium exploded. We looked around and just saw faces everywhere. Everyone was smiling and cheering. We couldn’t believe it.

Halfway through the set, the stage manager asked us to move everyone forward to create more room at the back – it was unbelievably humbling and overwhelming, wonderful and frightening all at the same time. By the end of the set, we were deliriously happy. The crowd had been so supportive and LOUD! We came off stage and were whisked straight off to the signing area to find a queue there! We just couldn’t take it all in.

We did a few interviews and about half hour later Deeanne and I found a quiet place between the two stages. We just hugged and the last hour had been so overwhelming we cried! We were so grateful to be part of such an incredible weekend, a really special moment in UK music. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

I’d be surprised if the album launch party at The Barfly Camden doesn’t sell out very quickly, and especially with such great support. I’ve been a big fan of Liv’s music for some time now and her EP Working Man’s Dream is still played regularly. I don’t know much about Lucy May but have heard enough good things to know that she is a great addition to an already great line up. I’ll see you there.

Dexeter Tickets

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