Beth Rowley – Colston Hall 2, Bristol, July 21 2012
By Clare Lowe
It’s the first sunny day we’ve had in Bristol for what seems like months and Beth Rowley is playing at the modest Colston Hall 2; a small club-like space attached to the 2,069 capacity Colston Hall Main Auditorium. It provides an intimate setting and is perfect for singers like Rowley; a Bristol native who’s playing a homecoming performance.
Rowley’s support act, George Ezra, a Bristol-based angelic looking singer/songwriter akin to Paolo Nutini, is a young artist with an old soul voice. Ezra’s set was captivating, if not a little repetitive. There were stand out songs, such as ‘Broken’, ‘Darker Shade Of Bleak’ and ‘Learning How To Lie’; all well-written melancholic songs that makes Ezra a one to watch.
Rowley came onto an atmospherically lit stage that transformed the room into a late 60s Jazz club. Her voice made its way through the crowd and with a very calm, laid back demeanour, she instantly made the show seem like an intimate performance. The opening song is the classic blues number ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’. Although performed by many, Rowley made it sound new and her soaring vocals show a confidence in her ability to do so.
Rowley has always shown a comprehensive knowledge of musical genres. Her debut album Little Dreamer reached number six in the album charts in 2008, showcasing blues, gospel and soul. At this performance, she showcased tracks from her forthcoming album, which seemed to be more of the same.
We were treated to the rousing gospel song ‘Somebody Bigger Than You’ and a wonderful, dream-like rendition of Captain Beefheart’s ‘I’m Glad’. Tracks from her new album certainly seem to focus on more of a blues and funk vibe. The performance finished with ‘Sirens’, from the forthcoming album, which is a danceable, infectious beat that I have never heard from Rowley before.
Rowley has a timeless beauty to her voice that is totally captivating and alluring. Watching her perform feels like an event to be remembered. You can catch her at a number of festivals over the summer:
Sun August 19, Summer Sundae Weekender, Leister
Fri August 24, Shambala Festival, Nothamptonshire
Sat August 25, Voewood Festival, North Norfolk