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Live Review: Bitter Ruin (Bodega, Nottingham)

Photo: Elektra Anderson

Having spoken to Georgia last month, the upcoming January tour was apparently going to be embellished with a few surprises. As I had never seen Bitter Ruin before, it seemed that the entire evening was going to be one big one. The doors slowly fed through a handful of folk at a time until a reasonable audience were set to hear the incredible songwriting talent of Alfie Bernardi of The Long Goodbye who set the tone of the evening by demonstrating the emotive power of simplicity.

Though Bitter Ruin rely on very little instrument-wise (a drum, a cymbal and a guitar), their voices are so adaptable that it literally feels like there is a full orchestra on stage tonight. Georgia switches between a soprano style to sinister alto-like passages with such ease that it’s unnerving – ‘Just A Book’ exemplifies just how this one woman manages to sound like an entire choir.  Let it not go unsaid, however, that Ben has one of the most distinctive voices I’ve heard in a long time – his delivery is a perfect mergence of charm and passion – he commands ‘Soldier’ so confidently and his introduction on ‘Beware’ is breathtaking to say the least.
A real understanding of their talent is evident within the pair but they always let emotion stand at the fore and it’s this that allows songs like the recent single ‘Child In A Seacave’ to bring the audience to the next level of awe. Not to be outdone by their support act, Alfie, the songwriting here is also striking. To mention it again, ‘Beware’ is an instant triumph and fan favourite ‘Trust’ wins a few extra cheers thanks to it’s unique blend of calm verses and utterly frantic hooks.

It’s an enviable talent to keep an audience entertained for over an hour with, essentially, just a guitar and vocals. A well-timed crescendo came in the encores delightful ‘Relief’ and as they lured the audience to a seated area of the venue, Georgia and Ben closed the evening with an entirely acoustic version of ‘A Brand New Me’ which, with the duo surrounded tightly by the crowd, was enveloped by the perfect atmosphere for the confessional lyrics. With that, the pair rushed to the merchandise desk to meet and greet and as the crowds dispersed, surely with a handful of Bitter Ruin songs stuck well and truly in their subconscious, it will be widely agreed that it was, undeniably, a tremendous gig.

Photo: Elektra Anderson
Words: Simon McMurdo

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