On March 11th and 12th, the Talking Heads in Southampton City Centre played host to the third annual Share the Sound festival. This is a festival organized and run by music students of the University of Southampton and provides a great gig opportunity for up and coming local music talent. It also caters to a variety of genres of music, although with a particular emphasis on pop and jazz.
With 14 different music acts, 7 on each night, comprising a variety of music styles from rock to blues, to acoustic folk, it would be hard to not come away from Share the Sound festival with a greater appreciation of at least some of the local musical talent on offer in Southampton. As it was, partially because I am not particularly fussy about what music I like to listen or sway appreciatively from side to side to in what some may generously term ‘a dancing motion’, and mainly because of the depth and breadth of talent on offer at this year’s Share the Sound, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Kicking off proceedings in the music stage and bar area of the Talking Heads first on Friday with a 6-track set of acoustic pop was singer-songwriter Sarah Newell, who earlier I’d had the good fortune of interviewing. The tracks that stood out were her original, ‘Dictator’, and a cover of Carrie Underwood’s ‘Before He Cheats’. While the former demonstrated her songwriting flair, consisting of the story of leaving a domineering boyfriend, Newell’s Underwood cover showcased best of all the tracks her singing capabilities.
Following a ‘truncated’ (pun-intended) set of jazz and jazz-fusion instrumentals from TUSK, who had a fabulous elephant-carpeted rug staged behind them, was Charlie Hawkins. A singer-songwriter from Gloucester, Hawkins also has a pop basis to the music she performs, reminiscent in vocal tone at times to some of Gabrielle Aplin’s earlier work. However, it was her fantastic rendition of Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’ which left the most durable impression on me with the audience also thoroughly appreciative of it.
The most unusual act of Friday night was unquestionably the collaboration of eight-piece jazz band, including three saxophonists, VVilhelm, with rappers El Brimmo and Cortex the Doctor. Clearly having not gone to great lengths in considering outfits for the evening, the tracksuit-bottom wearing rapper duo were a very entertaining addition to the band’s performance, even if at times their rapping was a little drowned out by the wonderful jazz tunes.
Bringing to a conclusion Friday night were rock band Lost or Stolen. They had said in their interview earlier of the influence Arctic Monkeys had on them, and this was evident throughout their playlist. Their track ‘Hocus Pocus’ brought the house down, with the Share the Sound crowd stomping their feet impatiently for an encore, which was duly provided in the form of one of their oldest singles, ‘Smallprint’. Of all the acts across the two days, if I had to choose one to recommend keeping an eye on for the future, then Lost or Stolen would be it.
On Saturday, following the smooth jazz tones of Yona and the Quartet was folk acoustic singer CAT ELIZA T. Singing solo and playing a range of instruments, including the ukelele, she brought a nice, intimate feel to the room. Her track ‘Humour Me’ particularly showed the mellifluous side to her voice, while ‘Concrete’, about a break-up, provided a neat finale to her set, being faster-paced and livelier than her other tracks.
There followed the stylish jazz tunes of Archie and the Loveshakers, formerly known as TRAMS. Their track, ‘Jacob’, about a drunken night in Portswood, shone through, although the lyrics ‘drinking whiskey in a china cup’ left one wondering just how crazy that night in question had been! Next on stage were Mystery School, an indie rock band who marked a significant ramping up of atmosphere with their lively rock riffs. Considering the backing singer had lost his voice the day before, and was relying on drinking lots of honey – which he even did on stage – to keep what voice he’d regained going, the vocals of this band were impressive.
Bringing to a close Saturday night and the festival, were Southampton-based funk rock band with 6-piece Brass rhythm section, Nine Ace Deck. From the infectious rhythm of ‘Leave It Out’ through the tender, romantic tone of ‘Shelter’, to the fabulous opening instrumental of their most well-known track ‘Blue Moons’, Nine Ace Deck were a rousing finale to the festival.
Although some of the acts could do with improving a little their audience interaction between tracks, the talent of all on show bodes well for the Southampton local music scene for the future. A smiley face rubber stamp was the effective proof of ticket and a smile on one’s face is what I left the third edition of the university music student-run Share the Sound festival with.