Gazelle, Tori Cross, Kingfast: 81 Renshaw, Liverpool
Three incredible Liverpool artists come together for one night at 81 Renshaw, and Graham Smillie was on hand to take it all in.
Nothing beats a night of live music for entertainment and seeing young performers take their place on stage to perform their own material is the best of all.
Out of Context promised an evening of cool, jazzy, soulful grooves for a Saturday night and that is what we got as Kingfast opened the show. He has a sweet soul voice, not a million miles from Smokey Robinson and with a good range.
It feels like soul music, laid back and with jazz running throughout. The songs are good too, especially Never Felt This Way Before and Hold On. There’s a fair bit of loop-pedal juggling, which occasionally hinders the performance, but that is a minor point. It was the perfect opening to the night.
With her Amy Winehouse influences firmly attached to her sleeve, Tori Cross does an excellent job of covering Stronger Than Me, and confidently performs a set of heartfelt and personal songs.
She has a fine voice and good stage presence. For the beginning of the set she was accompanied by a lone guitarist who produced a subtle, complimentary sound. With a few songs left to sing, she switched to a backing track which was a bit louder than her, and appeared to struggle against it. It was a real shame and we can’t help but feel like she would have been better served sticking to her initial set-up.
Gazelle showed how important a full live band can make in backing a singer. No backing tracks or loops, just a well-rehearsed guitar, bass and drums.
The difference is immediate. The sound is soul and jazz with a youthful pre-occupation with falling in and out of love. There’s no juggling pedals or computers, just a tight set of great songs, well performed and sung.
Gazelle has the confidence to front a full band, and her songs draw on her personal life, all with a firey passion.
So, a good night was had by all, and a testament to the variety of sounds coming out of the city right now.
Out Of Context are back on 7th Sept, joining up with Planet Slop with another soulful line up. If the standard is this good it’ll be a cracker. You can buy tickets for that show, featuring Shak Omar, Remée and Jazmine Johnson, by clicking here.
Pictures by Graham Smillie