31st January 2014
at The Cookie
By Trevor Cobbe
January has flown by, Breaking Bad too and it’s pouring in sunny Leicester. Still, I’m off to the Cookie Jar so things aren’t so bad.
Tonight Charlotte Carpenter is headlining with support from Bellawave and Joe Morrell.
Bellawave opened the proceedings with a well received set of both their own original material and a couple of covers. A three-piece group formed while at Leicester University and since staying in the city, Bellawave have been together for approx four years. The band comprises singer and sometime guitarist Leah Nolan, bassist Chris Pharaoh and guitarist, keyboard, harmonica and backing vocalist Dan Levandovsky.
Describing themselves as acoustic folk, Bellawave had a good audience on their side from the start. Leah has a powerful yet controlled voice and was well supported by Dan and Chris, with Dan switching effortlessly between guitar and keyboard as well as twice throwing in some harmonica – an instant plus point for me. A minor negative for me was the inclusion of two covers from a band that has been going for four years – after that length of time, I would expect them to have enough of their own material for a full set and Leah occasionally had to check lyrics during the covers and seemed slightly nervous and fidgety during them. From hearing their own material, I would encourage the band to have confidence in their own songs and relish the audience enjoyment which was shown on Friday night.
Next onstage we had Joe Morrell aka HumbleHe and Irene Blaze Cameron (also Mattayoux ) on cello. Charlotte introduced Joe as the best male singer she knows – so no pressure there. Joe countered that he had a sore throat but hoped it would add a jazzy feel to his set. Joe is from the Flat Five Records stable and I’ve seen him about five times locally however never before with an accompanying cellist. The combo worked very well with Irene’s cello emphasising beautifully the melancholy nature of Joe’s set. As above I would argue Joe doesn’t need to include a cover as it deprives the audience of one of his own songs. An already good crowd swelled noticeably for Joe’s set and the appreciation was very vocal.
And so to our headline act, Charlotte Carpenter who has appeared many times at the Cookie but never before headlining. I had seen Charlotte briefly once before at Oxjam 2013 in the Hansom Hall. It had been a long day and Hansom Hall’s acoustics didn’t help along with a cavernous space which was not overly full. I didn’t stay for the full set but was kicking myself a few days later when I heard her single ‘Whole’. A beautiful song, it made me resolve to catch a full set asap. Fast forward to the Cookie Jar at the end of January and a full house in an intimate, acoustically superior setting and we had the makings of a night to remember. Charlotte was accompanied by Lee on guitar and Moog and Dan on drums.
Charlotte describes herself as alternative indie with the promise of darker more electric sounds on forthcoming EP, Whole. I would probably describe the music as acoustically based Folk/Rock, a crowded segment but it’s beautifully delivered on the night. The tempo ebbed and flowed in the songs as well as the set, with Let It Go dedicated to an aunt and uncle in the audience before Charlotte gave us an insight into her darker electric sound with a debut performance of Take It All before finishing with the beautiful Whole. This was a real crowd pleaser to finish on and the full house was in raptures at the end, demanding more. Maybe next time. The addition of supporting musicians doubtless adds a dimension to Charlotte’s sound and I look forward to hearing her music develop over the coming year.
In the last two weeks I’ve left gigs exhausted after moshing with JAWS, elated after rocking with Linear and Clubs, chilled after shoegazing with Surf, buzzing after rapping with NasheTI and hyped after grunging with the Furies and Flying Kangaroo Alliance. Tonight I felt a sense of contentment and calm.
Charlotte’s set list for tonight:
In The Night
Take What You Want
Stay With Me
Found A Light
Let It Go
Take It All
Leicester music in all it’s genres is in a good place. Get gigging!Look out for Charlotte’s EP, Whole, to be released soon.