Sofar Sounds Winchester at The Butcher’s Hook, Bitterne Park (01/06/2014)

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You cannot deny the excitement you get when acts you like announce shows and you manage to secure a ticket, but can you imagine the extra pump of adrenaline when you are on the list of an invitation only show with a secret line up and location?

Sofar Sounds is one of the few who are now hosting secret shows in various locations both nationally and internationally in over 60 cities. On 1st June, the Winchester branch hosted its first ever Southampton show at The Butcher’s Hook in Bitterne Park, the smallest pub in a little quiet corner of Southampton.

Tiled floor and lit by light bulbs in mason jars, chalkboard walls and casks of ales, this is a lovely venue for a stripped down acoustic gig. Aiming to get the music of unheard by most acts across to an audience who are passionate about music, Sofar Sounds arranged an enjoyable night for all.

First up of the night is Nicola Brown, a folk singer songwriter from Bournemouth. Young and with a small frame, you could be taken by surprise by her rather deep voice. The quality of her voice reminds me sort of Gabrielle Aplin’s; the light atmospheric touch that echoes around the room. Nicola performed a few originals and a mash up song, my favourite amongst is her original Find Me. The track transfers the airiness of her vocal very well.

After a short interval for people to grab another drink for the next performance, London based Milly Upton and her guitarist Iain Doran take the spot in front of the crowd. It is very evident that Milly has more performance experiences with her ease in front of people, in introducing herself and the way she starts a song and carries on to the next. She has a more solid sounding voice compared to Nicola and her songs sounds like stories. It is very engaging listening to her sing and plays her guitar; the beats of two instruments on the stage definitely helped drawn people in as well.

The final act of the night is alternative folk trio Tenderlore. Individual solo singers themselves, Hayley McDonnell, Olly Lewis and Rob Kitney came together whilst at University in Southampton as fellow singersongwriters and music students. Their harmony is almost impeccable even when they are performing a song originally wrote by each other. Their rich vocal came together very nicely and the lyrical contents are captivating.

There are differences between the songs they wrote as understandably they are individual songwriters, but they certainly adapted to each other’s materials really well and are able to bring out what is special about each song with their own unique quality, either within their vocal or their instruments. I very much enjoyed every song they performed and I am sure fellow audiences had as well when they sang along and demanded one of the songs play again. I look forward to their future materials especially when they are now recording in the studio. Below is their new demo.

The night has been very delightful and memorable. Even if the audiences do not know each other, it is not hard to start a conversation base on the love for music and the immediate feelings and reactions of the act just performed. There will always be something special about an intimate live gig and during one of these nights, you experience it all.

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tea & coffee fueled lifetime music fanatic and avid gig lover

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