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Spiral Beach - Redchurch Brewery, London, 15/1/2015

  by Owen Peters

published: 9 / 2 / 2015

Spiral Beach - Redchurch Brewery, London, 15/1/2015


At the launch gig for her new album '9 by 7', Owen Peters sees underrated Reading-based singer-songwriter Jo Bartlett play a versatile set at the Redchurch Brewery in London

Within one minute of Jo Bartlett starting her showcase gig I want to shout, 'Shut the fuck up!' Her new album, '9 by 7', was released on January 12th, and here we are at the Redchurch Brewery in Bethnal Green all set for the showcase gig. The atmosphere is spot on, friendly, and relaxed. The ever increasing audience are here to begin their weekend as the opening song gets ever closer. It’s a good choice of venue, hessian roof drapes and red brickwork adding character and charm to this intimate venue. I catch a couple of minutes with Jo before her gig as she’s a girl in demand from friends, well wishers and casual Friday night attendees. “How are you feeling?” I ask. “A bit nervous, but ready for the gig” she says sweeping back her blonde locks. “What about a drink?” I venture, pointing to the bar. She holds up a water bottle. “January, it’s a dry month for me, no alcohol” She shrugs as if to say “What can you do?” We share the pathos of the moment - a gig in a brewery, dry January. Unfortunately Bartlett doesn’t open up the showcase gig well. Instead of someone introducing Bartlett and the band, she does a self promotion opening. “Hi I’m Jo Bartlett, thanks for coming let’s go…” As the band begin most of the audience are still in chatter mode. Not surprisingly it takes the collective audience some minutes to realise the showcase gig is underway. As the songs begin to flow, oh how I wish the six girls to my left had decided to have a dry January, or maybe just a dry Friday, namely this one. This is my shut the fuck up moment. It never fails to amaze me why people go to music gigs and talk. It is so bloody frustrating. The gig opens with 'Repentant Song' which is somewhat lost whilst the audience settles. Bartlett and her band soon hit their rhythm with tracks from some of the four It's Jo and Danny albums that she released between 2000 and 2005 with her partner Danny Hagan. 'Summer Rain' has a particularly strong arrangement with Gareth Palmer tight and concise on percussion drum box. Somewhat surprisingly it’s five songs into the set before we get anything from the excellent '9 by 7' album. But it’s worth waiting for with 'What Do You Say to That?' Here we get a true indication on the quality of Bartlett's band. The interplay between Mike Muggeridge on bass guitar and Richard Handyside on lead guitar provide an outstanding two or three minutes of guitar virtuoso between them. Throughout the set Bartlett’s tracks, some from previous albums, some from '9 by 7' have a more driven, percussion led beat and direction. The whole concept comes together with 'Dying Kiss', this being the new single, a promotional video produced by Jason Glenister. Richard Handyside on lead guitar takes control of the song's pace and execution, in turn allowing Bartlett to let loose physically (rock chic in action) and musically, and free flowing on acoustic guitar. Over the years, these guys have played together at various gigs and studio albums with Bartlett, and it shows. The extended version of the albums of 'Dying Kiss' is touching on White Stripes territory in terms of quality and intensity. She must be in a sharing mood, as she tells us when she screwed up, either with an ending or where she should have whistled. Does anyone care? Absolutely not! The audience are now wired into to the whole rhythm and groove of the gig. Bartlett and the band close with 'Innocence' and 'Driven Away', the latter a track taken from '9 by 7'. It encapsulates the depth of the album and ability of the band to re-tempo the song into a rockier delivery. The extended guitar licks in this setting work really well as the audience applause testifies. The thanks you’s and good night, appreciate you coming are the gig closing off. A couple more songs, even under the banner of an encore would have gone down well. But the showcase gig is done. Bartlett in a variety of guises and bands has been tagged as folk, psychedelic, rock, thoughtful, lyrical. Tonight we have had a glimpse of all these descriptions, some in part, some as a whole. It is a showcase gig confirming the talent and diversity on offer by Bartlett and the excellent trio on stage. This sound can easily transfer to larger venues and larger audiences. Getting the extension now to happen is the trick. Photos by Alexia Arrizabalaga www.troubleshooteur.com

Picture Gallery:-
Spiral Beach - Redchurch Brewery, London, 15/1/2015

Spiral Beach - Redchurch Brewery, London, 15/1/2015

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