I attended this rather wonderful gig more than a month ago and it may well be my final socially distanced gig. I certainly hope so! Why is the review so late? Well I only went and lost my note pad, but now it is back and here comes that long overdue review. The show highlighted the immense talent that exists and is nurtured by the Access Creative College in York. First up was Kieran of excellent local band Tommyrot. He is a talented, idiosyncratic and original songwriter and performer who at times reminded me of Jonathan Richman in his prime. The ‘sad song’ was something special and the penultimate tune was a proper happy take on life even though, as we all know, life isn’t perfect. Kieran was joined by another member of Tommyrot, Felix for the final song.
The mega talented singer songwriter Ruby Addy took the stage next armed with just a keyboard and a heavenly voice. She brought a late night, smoky, New York City jazz club vibe to proceedings. Is anything more exceptional and extraordinarily stunning as Ruby’s songs? Well I can only think of one thing more exceptional and that is Ruby’s voice! Could anyone write a more heartbreaking song than “Lady Jane”? Possibly but not many could achieve that level of sadness in a song. Ruby played her gorgeous and ethereal new single “St Philomena” and that performance convinced me that I had seen the future of torch singers and that future is named Ruby Addy! Just to prove how multi talented she is Ruby was joined by her friend and fellow student Dyl and the pair performed some rather excellent children’s songs which they had written and for this part they are called Pickleshark. There was “An Agitated Shrew Sounds Like A Digeridoo”, who knew that? Along with a song about Tom The Lizard. I love the line “I know I’m a lizard, but I wish I was a cool guy”! It won’t only be kids who fall in love with these songs.
The rather excellent Alice Simmons was next and this was pretty much the same set as I saw her do at the Centre For Early Music for the Songs Under Skies series of shows. But that does not take anything away from it. Alice was again on top form vocally and her guitar work shines. But once again I have to mention the talented Tim Downie who provided some stunning funky fretwork, particularly on the cover of “No Diggity”. On paper and acoustic cover of that song should not work, but Alice and Tim take it not just to another level, but also in a completely and refreshingly new direction! “Bridges” and “Black Coffee” were particular stand outs for me.
Michelle Jade graced the stage next with more great guitar accompaniment from the talented Mr Dowie. I heard their soundcheck earlier of and I was quite excited as that included “Freefalling” and I was right to be excited Michelle performed a stunning cover of the classic Tom Petty tune. Apparently she used the John Mayer arrangement, which was new to me. Michelle performed some of her original songs along with a few more covers. Her original tunes showcase that she has a great future while the covers amplify and enhance that raw talent. The Shinedown cover was very special indeed. She has an incredibly powerful voice, I am definitely a fan!
Next up was another talented woman with a great voice, Lily Honey. Her delivery has a clarity that is on a par with Karen Carpenter. She opened with a song called “Now You’re Gone”, at least that is what I think it was called. I think it is a break up tune and it has the makings of an epic. Lily also treated us to an unfinished song which she only started writing a few days before this gig. It is an emotionally charged, yearning love song and I loved it. Lily’s choice of covers was smart and the highlight of those for me was Baby Queen’s “These Drugs”. She proved how broad her talent is by closing with a few house tracks, including a cover of Monica’s “Shoulda Known Better”. Lily’s hosue vocals have a lilting, lamenting feel of Tracey Thorn about them and that makes these tracks very special. She played a song, written during lockdown, and released last year called “Leaving All My Love” which I think is awesome. This whole gig was a magnificent showcase for the Access Creative College in York, which is clearly oozing with supremely talented people. A big shout out to the sound guy too, another student and this was his first big gig manning the sound desk, great job!
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