Live Review: Charlotte Church (Bodega, Nottingham)

Photo: Simon McMurdo

It isn’t the type of venue that you’d expect to find a world renowned singer to perform at but the Bodega is a charming little place that Charlotte Church made a stop at on her current tour. Promoting her rockier music, she seems determined to do it the old-fashioned way and avoid a talent-show performance slot in favour or working up interest through visiting some of the smallest venues throughout the country. It’s hard to deny that she’s dedicated to her art, then.

The first act onstage is the local talent Rosanna O’Brien whose beautiful vocals and simple but unforgettable songwriting skills are akin to Sarah McLachlan. Tracks such as the chirpy ‘Catch It’, ‘ and a stunning rendition of one of her most captivating compositions, ‘Angel In Your Soul’ circle her as of the brightest Nottingham musicians wading through the scene.

Photo: Simon McMurdo

Cardiff fellow, SiĆ“n Russell Jones made his way through a lengthy support slot but easily maintained audience attention for the vast majority of it. The Mumford and Sons style of the country inspired acoustics he puts his name to set just the right tone for the main act. Highlights of the set included the beautiful ‘Jimi The Space Cadet’ and ‘Lover Come Closer’; he managed to prove that lack of instruments (he boasted only three tonight) definitely doesn’t mean a lack of excitement.

You wouldn’t believe Church was once of the biggest names in the country as she humbly makes her way onstage, clutching a jar of honey and surrounded by a quick burst of cheers. In seconds, she utilises her handy loop-pedal to prepare some killer high notes to accompany her in the first track ‘The Rise’. The loop-recording itself is an apt way to start the show as it demonstrates the level of talent this woman is about to display and the track proves it wonderfully, sounding even more powerful on the live scene than it had on record.

Though only a handful of tracks have been heard, Charlotte and her band have definitely been working hard as they treat the audience to a selection of eleven new tracks. ‘Say It’s True’ proves to be one of the bounciest performances of the evening and, as Charlotte herself stated, is more than festival-ready. Likewise, set closer ‘James’ proved that jangly guitars don’t necessarily have to connote angst or drones.

Some of the tracks worked as a sort of soundtrack to the memoirs of an ex-media starlet. ‘Mr. The News’, one of the most talked about new tracks, was inspired by the Leveson enquiry and it demonstrated one of the rockiest incarnations that Church has taken thus far; the track afforded her beau, Jonathan Powell, the opportunity to leap around the stage and toss his hair about so perhaps jangly guitars do, sometimes, bring out the angst after all.

Photo: Simon McMurdo

Turning her gaze to the critical public, ‘Judge From Afar’ provided just as much conviction as ‘Mr. The News’, but delivered it in a much more haunting manner. Minor glitch aside (Charlotte pressed the wrong button, fearing she’d deleted her recordings), the performance saw the famous loop-pedal at it’s best as Charlotte layered her voice to full effect, resulting in a heart-stopping acapella verse.

The glorious chorus of ‘Breach The Peace’, an electrifying performance of current single ‘How Not To Be Surprised When You’re A Ghost’ and ‘Box’, with it’s stripped back beauty, were just a few more of the many highlights from the evening. Ultimately, the set provides a plethora of evidence, if you still need it, that Church has come back into the music industry with a firm eye set as far away from the mainstream as possible. It isn’t likely that she’ll be back to playing arenas anytime soon, but judging from her expression as she leaves the stage, it doesn’t seem like she could be much happier, anyway.

Photo and Words: Simon McMurdo


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