I’m in France for the week and although I’d planned on spending the week looking at flats, I ended up choosing the very first apartment I visited which has left me time to consider work opportunities and to write a new blog entry. As usual it’s been a few weeks since my last post (who would’ve thought finishing an album and moving to another country would be so time-consuming?!) but I’ve got a few things to write about, including a gig review of Australian band Belle Roscoe.
The day before I flew here, I performed at one of my favourite London venues – The Troubadour, which famously hosted heroes such as Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Paul Simon. And Bob Dylan. 😉 I was playing piano for my good friend Jack Hardman who, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts has contributed lead vocals to our forthcoming album ‘Echoes of Time‘ which is due for release any time. Also on the bill that night were an Australian band, ‘Belle Roscoe’ who I’d like to write about.
Belle Roscoe are fronted by brother and sister duo Julia and Matty Gurry who although from Melbourne, have just spent 4-5 years on the Paris music scene. Given that I’m about to move to France I was intrigued by this and their pianist, Raphael, happened to be French as well so I was quick to get in a little practice with some chit-chat. (Poor guy!)
The last band I reviewed – albeit in a fairly comedic fashion – were fellow Aussies, Cat Empire at the Royal Albert Hall, but this was a very different kind of evening and anyone who has been to The Troubadour will know why. I’ll start by saying that as someone who has played his share of gigs, it can get a little soul-destroying when you feel like every band/artist is in it for themselves; it’s not unusual for a band (and their fans) to show up for their set, then as soon as they’ve finished both band and fans just leave. Not only does this reduce the atmosphere in the venue for the next band, but it also means there’s no ‘cross-pollination’ of fans – something that every unsigned band needs to develop their fan base.
Thankfully during the sound checks earlier in the evening, we and Belle Roscoe got on great – really sociable people which plenty of friendly conversation about our experiences in France, Oz and their new adventure in England. Therefore I was more than happy to sit there right in front of the stage, take in their music and makes noises at appropriate places. And I’m glad I did!
As I’ve already rambled on for a couple of extended paragraphs I’ll keep the review fairly brief, but I’ll start it by saying these guys were excellent. As someone who has always been in a band with a sibling, I can completely relate to those special moments where you’re mid-song and able to look round and exchange a beautiful warm smile with someone you love after a particularly cool onstage moment. That might sound a bit intense but it’s one of the things that makes being in ‘Storey’ such a unique and rewarding experience for me. But given that Julia and Matty are Belle Roscoe’s ‘front-men’ (for want of a better term), they’re actually able to make this kind of ‘family connection’ a visible, tangible part of the set. The smiles, glances and light hearted jokes are clear to everyone and I felt it enhanced the whole set.
Cue The Belle Roscoe BVs
Musically, I’ve always been a huge fan of vocal harmonies – Storey’s music is full of it – and so is Belle Roscoe’s so that was an immediate turn-on for me. Listening to BR sing, I could only imagine that they’d been writing and performing songs together since they were children because their voices gelled really smoothly, and that doesn’t come over night; it takes hours of hard practice, rehearsals and gigging together. They kicked off the set with possibly my favourite song of the night – Side Step – which immediately reminded me of early mark-II Fleetwood Mac, before their sound became more polished. It was melodic but bluesy enough to stop it sounding too sweet – I knew I was going to enjoy their music and that is the sort of song I would buy in a flash.
The next track ‘Gun To My Head’, although cool, did less for me, but then track 3, ‘Bad Man’ (Matty was quick to point out that this was apparently written about one/some of Julia’s male conquests!) was also fantastic; emotive chord changes with ethereal synth sounds from Raphael. One of my very favourite singers is Peter Gabriel; his writing and voice are truly inspiring and I could well imagine him singing this song which is a fine compliment of someone’s songwriting craft.
Given the intimate size of the venue, this was effectively an acoustic set and to me, unless someone is as captivating as Damien Rice, I can quickly tire of acoustic arrangements but I didn’t have such a problem here. Although there were only three of them onstage, at any time you could be listening to two guitars, two keyboards, a range of percussion, and the ubiquitous vocal harmonies; and this ever evolving sound-scape was delivered dynamically and powerfully. Even the jams and solos remained interesting which is not always easy without a pumping rhythm section driving the music.
Talking to the band’s manager Meg afterwards I was told that they often play as a full-band as well so that is something I’d be very keen to see in the future. I’m going to try catch the band again before I head to France and in the name of supporting a hard working, talented and deserving band who probably deserve more credit – especially one brave enough to move half way around the world to continue their journey – I’d advise you to do the same; you won’t be disappointed. You can see their London gig dates on their website – www.belleroscoe.com and if the pennies are tight at the minute, don’t let that put you off because they have a number of dates at The Bedford in Balham, which is a free-entry music venue. They also have a Facebook page which you can view and ‘Like’ HERE:
I’ll finish this by saying that it was great to meet fellow musicians who shared the same ethos as me – support each other, make good friendships and connections. As an example, as soon as Raphael, Julia and Matty heard I am moving to Toulouse, they offered to put me in touch with some of their musician friends in that very city. Perfect – it’s at moments like that I feel my decision to move to France is definitely the right one. It’s up to us as musicians to actually follow through on this and make it work but with a bit of effort everyone should reap the benefits. This is something a lot of young and unsigned bands could learn from.
I’m about to watch France lose their rugby World Cup quarter final with a couple of French girls I met through Couchsurfing. It could get ugly. 🙂