Gig review: Laid Bare, Upstairs at the Ritzy – 30 April

Our arts writer and gig photographer Petra Gent went along to last night’s Laid Bare at Upstairs at the Ritzy. Photos by Petra.

From the Voice to the Ritzy - Hannah Symons
From the Voice to the Ritzy – Hannah Symons

Our wonderfully congenial host Rami Radi had gathered an eclectic and impressive mix of performers for this month’s Laid Bare at one of my favourite small venues Upstairs at the Ritzy. After a rain-soaked April day we were treated to a clear blue sky to begin a very chilled, and free, evening of mellow acoustic entertainment.

R.A.Parade opened the Laid Bare Evening
R.A.Parade opened the Laid Bare Evening

First up for the night we had a few numbers from RA Parade. The  powerful rhythmic guitar strumming beautifully complemented his deep, soulful voice as he twisted and bent his vowel sounds to accentuate the shape of the words as he sung. A real upbeat start to the night.

The second performer was Mr Peculiar. His impressively twangy guitar style gave his sound definite individuality. There was also a deep south/country feel to his music with an occasional gravelly hint of Dylan in his vocals.

The third act of the night was a performance from the very talented Hannah Symons. Her first number was an original piece and as she sang I couldn’t help but be reminded of Sia. Then to my delight she followed by performing one of Sia’s songs. A very powerful singer and fully deserving her recent success on The Voice. As a performer she has a fun, relaxed stage presence – joking with the audience about selling her soul and loving it.

Recently receiving some BBC6music attention - Our Man in the Field
Recently receiving some BBC 6 Music attention – Our Man in the Field

Our Man In The Field is a husky -voiced singer-songwriter who charmed the audience with gentle songs reminiscent of Elliot Smith. Reaching the falsetto range with ease, his songs conveyed sweet melancholy. Rami also joined Our Man in The Field on stage to add another layer to his powerful third number.  It’s clear to see why BBC 6 Music have been giving ‘Our Man’ some airplay recently.

Sweet and soulful Sadie Walker added a real sense of grace and style to the evening. With her deeply smoky voice and self-scribed songs about everyday realities, Sadie cheerfully told us she likes to write about real experiences – and these aren’t always positive.

Bernado onstage
Bernado onstage

Acoustic hip-hop duo Midnight Choir provided a change in tone for the penultimate act of the night. Sharing compelling song themes including ‘Kill me’ and ‘I am a mad man’ they definitely brought the fun factor to the night. The singers’ smiles and humorous banter added to the appeal of the performance.

Songbird Bernardo wowed the room with a Winehousesque depth to her vocals and bluesy rhythms set to her guitar plucking. She has recently been working with Roxy Music’s Phil Manzerena and can be caught performing at the Coffee Festival this weekend.

Our host and local musician Rami Radi was joined on stage to close the evening by poet extraordinaire Gabriel Moreno. Gabriel was a real crowd pleaser – joking between spoken word compositions and playfully flirting with his audience with one tongue firmly in his cheek.

As well as the usual convivial atmosphere at ‘Upstairs” and a respectfully quiet crowd, there was the

Spoken Word from Gabriel Moreno
Spoken word from Gabriel Moreno

added interest of a resident artist Sasha Jor, painting water colours of each artist as they performed. It made me feel that I should put my camera away and challenge my artistic representations a little more next time.

The next Laid Bare event is on 27th May at Upstairs at the Ritzy. Head to the website for more info.