Take Three Girls…

Live Review | Roots Music Club, Doncaster | Review by Allan Wilkinson

The start of the new autumn season at the Roots Music Club may have been low key in terms of audience numbers, but the usual standard was maintained as three local female performers made up the bill for the opening concert. It actually makes a change to enjoy an entire evening of songs devoid of whalers, maidens, cross-dressing sailors, Napoleonic battles and grizzly murders, and for once, not a single political rant, but just three girls with guitars, passionately performing contemporary songs from the repertoires of such diverse acts as Nine Inch Nails, Corinne Bailey Rae, Queen and Guns and Roses. Introduced in turn by regular compere Bob Chiswick, each of the singers eagerly took to the spotlight in order to perform in the relaxed atmosphere of the Ukrainian Centre, the main home of the club, with the audience pretty much on their side from the start. In the case of Scarlett Kirwan, everyone in the room was rooting for the young singer as she made her first appearance outside of her own school environment. Not even a teenager yet, and with eight months of practice under her belt, the eleven year-old confidently took her place centre stage and immediately found her stride with the help of a selection of songs by Jason Mraz “I’m Yours”, The Beautiful South “Rotterdam” and Amy MacDonald “Slow it Down”, each of which were received with the enthusiasm this young performer very much deserved.

With no small measure of courage, Anya Wiltschinsky chose some of the most challenging songs of the evening, from a diverse range of sources; the vocal pyrotechnics of Bjork for example, with a valiant take on the Sugarcubes’ memorable “Birthday”, to Whitney Houston’s “Saving All My Love For You”, again demanding several octaves with just the one set of tonsils available, by way of a rather interesting mashup of Tool’s “Parabola” and Mars Volta’s “The Widow”, a Prog opus of sorts and probably the highlight of the set. Perhaps the venture was over-adventurous in places, as the singer traversed the myriad of jazz chords on Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years”, then to immediately investigate a flavour of Joni Mitchell’s sublime “A Case of You”, whilst still catching a breath between Blondie covers, “Picture This”, “Sunday Girl” and “Maria” – but full marks for utter fearlessness nevertheless. With two sets of covers done and dusted, the audience were then treated to the sultry delivery of such songs as Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” and Naughty Boy’s “La La La”, as Lu Moré caught the attention of the audience. The leather-clad songstress brought a sense of the sensual to proceedings, with a gentle touch and a confident approach to phrasing, bringing her own fresh approach to such songs as “Zombie” (The Cranberries), “Perfect” (Ed Sheeran) and finishing with a couple of her own self-penned numbers “Walls” and “Deja Vu”. With Stu Palmer in his usual position behind the sound desk, making each of these three performers sound as good as they possibly could, the audience was treated to an excellent opening night, and a great start to the new season, which will see appearances of such notable acts as Martin Carthy, Clive Gregson, Archie Fisher, Michael Chapman, Jim Moray, Cathryn Craig and Brian Willoughby and many more over the next few months.