Review: Hudson Taylor at The Bridge (12/06/2014)

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Southampton University’s very own venue ‘The Bridge’ welcomed Irish acoustic duo Hudson Taylor to play the last of 12 live Coffee House Sessions across universities in Britain. The project launched by Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens was an effort to reunite universities and live music from upcoming and already well-established live acts. With the release of their fourth EP ‘Battles II’ and a first album on the horizon, Hudson Taylor were the perfect choice to perform in this ambitious project. The combination of intricate guitar playing and harmonious voices from Hudson Taylor definitely did their part well as they played this session to fans.

With an anxious wait before the performance, there was a worry that Hudson Taylor would be playing to an audience of fewer than fifteen. But, as time crept nearer to 12.30, The Bridge began to fill up. As the brothers showed, a courteous welcome in the form of applause and cheering swept gracefully throughout the audience.

With the duo in sync, donning Doc Martins and lead singer, Alfie, with a vintage cap, it already looked hopeful that a gentle, folk-influenced performance would be soon to follow. After a hasty sound check and pleasant conversation with the crowd, Hudson Taylor began their set with Alfie leading the singing and typical rhythm guitar and Harry leading guitar with backing vocals.

Hudson Taylor opened their final Coffee House Session with their single ‘Weapons‘, a song that captivated the audience and set the tone for the next thirty minutes. With fans silently singing along not daring to ruin the Irish harmonies, anybody in the audience new to Hudson Taylor must have instantly appreciated the two musicians. Further well known songs from the EP Cinematic Lifestyle, including ‘Butterflies’ and ‘Chasing Rubies’, followed and showed the musical diversity of the acoustic musicians. The single ‘Battles’, re-released onto their latest EP Battles II, concluding their set, was another strong performance.

A definite highlight was the way in which Hudson Taylor performed their song ‘Beautiful Mistake‘. In an effort to play ‘how they started’, Hudson Taylor stepped off the stage and played their song purely acoustic without the help of microphones or amps. The song choice could not have been more perfect for this occasion. A slow song with meaningful lyrics which created a truly emotional atmosphere that seemed to radiate from the two brothers. It may not have got a look in at a large music venue but as a part of a small session in The Bridge, it truly captured everything that Huw Stephens must have hoped to achieve – the integration of brilliant live sessions with university campuses.

The surprise performance of upcoming single ‘Wildfires’, from their soon-to-be-released album, was another high point. It showed what else Hudson Taylor have to offer the current music scene and it should be expected that they will only want to continue raising the bar that they have already set themselves.

Overall, the performance was a unique view into the music of Hudson Taylor. Personal, but no less of a performance that would be given at other gigs or festivals. With a tour leading to a sell-out of EP’s, it was clear from the start that the Irish brothers have had a successful year. As we head into festival season, Hudson Taylor also have an impressive line-up. From playing prestigious festivals such as T in the Park to headlining local Festibelly alongside The Cuban Brothers and David Rodigan in the New Forest, Hudson Taylor will have an extremely busy summer and one that fans should be looking forward to.

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