Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Charlotte Church at The Arc

Charlotte Church
The Arc, Stockton-on-Tees
11 August, 2012

Charlotte Church

Think you know Charlotte Church? Think again.

Last weekend she came to The Arc and demonstrated the course of her bold new direction; Indie rock, backed by a five-piece band and tinged with shades of electronica. It was part of an ongoing tour to promote new material prior to an impending CD release.

There were two support acts. Jonathan Powell (who later reappeared as part of Charlotte's band) played a solo set of dark, deep material and he was followed by the energetic, quirky Houdini Dax.

Charlotte Church and her band came out at approximately 9.45 p.m. and played a set lasting almost exactly one hour.

Set list

The Rise
Say It's True
Breach of the Peace
Come to Me
Call It Off
How Not Be Surprised When You're A Ghost
Judge From Afar
Beautiful Wreck
Mr The News

Singing with passion
Some of the songs were based on relatively recent events which had doubtless caused pain and annoyance (writing songs about them is a good form of revenge). For example, Judge From Afar was a reaction to a piece in the Daily Mail, ironically billed here as 'brimming with facts and truth' and follow-up comments on the Mail's website which 'weren't too kind.' Beautiful Wreck was a battle cry against the expectations of 'the suits' and the art of moving away from the mainstream musical world. Mr The News - written whilst Charlotte was taking part in the Leveson Inquiry, topped both in terms of passion. It is a song dedicated to different people at different gigs; this time Andy Coulson (former editor of The News of the World) was the target.

The magnificent voice was kept in top condition by frequent refuelling from a jar of honey between songs.

Magnificent voice

The change of direction was a real eye-opener. Some of the songs had an experimental element, utilising a loop pedal. It enables a voice to be recorded, looped and overdubbed. I've seen a loop pedal in action just once before. It's an interesting device, allowing the user to harmonise with their own vocals.

Harmonising with herself
There was an amusing exchange when Charlotte asked people to follow her on Twitter. A local wag asked if she would follow him. 'What's your name?' she asked and back came the reply - 'Matthew'! 'So - I just search for Matthew...? OK, send me a tweet and I'll follow you.' There followed a Spartacus homage, with several people shouting, 'I'm Matthew!'

Counting Matthews...?
This very enjoyable performance was the most surprising show of the year. It can't be easy breaking away from the tremendous weight of public expectation and acceptance to head off on a brand new journey.

Pointing the way for a new direction

I'm looking forward to the new CD. For sceptics, The Rise can be downloaded for free at Charlotte's website.

Here's another example of what to expect.

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