Great to see such a good turn out of Birmingham’s musical community to support Jo Hamilton‘s album launch at the Glee Club last night, and a really high quality show all round.
Jo, with a good deal of help from Jon Cotton (previously known for his production work on Scott Matthews fine album) put together a terrific show with friendly and enthusiastic assistance in promotion from Shelley Atkinson and Tessa Burwood of Arts Deville and Project X Presents regulars Liam D’Authreau on tastefully understated visuals and Chloe Roberts on similarly effective lighting.
The musical programme went beyond the traditional “main act/support” format with the evening interwoven with various ensembles comprised of the quite remarkable wealth of talent in the area. I didn’t recognise them all, but multi-instrumentalist Frank Moon was in evidence showing his usual superb musicianship with The Urban Folk Quartet.
Jo’s band featured the lovely Leighton Hargreaves (Destoyers) playing something which he later identified for me as being an “Appalachian Dulcimer” and Mike Hurley (Mamamatrix and Birmingham Improvisors Orchestra) sensitively playing various keyobards and percussion.
Also Soweto Kinch guested on a couple of tracks playing a delightfully breathy and sensitive sax.
After Jo’s first set another duo played for a while, but I was too busy gabbing with Clare Edwards about the “delights” of organising events in Birmingham and missed them entirely.
As to the main body of the performance – to me, Jo’s biggest strength is probably her voice – delicate and warm, gentle, breathy and intimate, yet capable of dramatic strength when she extends herself (Id like to see her let go a little more now and then a la Kate Bush).
The song writing at times was really good tho there were places where if I was being really critical Id want to ask “where is the song going here, whats the purpose of this section?” – but Im like that! There were a couple of hooks that are still with me this morning tho one of them was a bit too close to a certain 80’s power ballad for me to enjoy it fully. The song with the vocal line “and there it is” was a particularly beautiful highlight.
The band very ably realised the very high levels of production which was great to see and very brave. At first it seemed almost a bit much and theatened to swamp the subtelty of the writing and vocals, but as the set grew and the band found their groove, they really brought everything out very well indeed.
All in all a really fine evening and a great credit to Birmingham’s vastly underrated (not least by itself) musical communty.
If you missed it, you can listen again on Rhubarb Radio.