March 1, 2017
St. Pancras Old Church
“You see our criteria: trucks and checked shirts!”
St. Pancras Old Church’s low lighting gave tantalising glimpses of the delights to come; the glint of pedal steel guitar here, the flutter of feather talismans there. Then, suddenly, a flash of red hair and smiles that could surely be seen for miles around. Right from the get go with Miss You Already, Rosie Jones and Zoë Nicol were note perfect – their harmonies warming the winter chill.
The duo’s UK tour was impressively extensive, covering 24 venues across the UK. However, as the album launch show, the sold out London crowd was treated to the full band experience.
It wasn’t surprising that the pedal steel guitar added beautiful accents to songs like the upbeat Bless Your Heart. As Zoë pointed out, “Chris [CJ] Hillman is, like, famous!” She joked about rushing to sign him up for the band before he won the Americana Music Association UK award for UK Instrumentalist of the Year.
The Noble Jacks’ Will Page on the fiddle was notable too, as was Dan Bryant on double bass, and Jay Shaw peering out between Rosie and Zoë – sometimes using muslin cloth and drum brushes to dampen down the drum kit for the sacred setting .
The relationship between Zoë and Rosie was undeniably compelling: part collaboration, part comedy double act.
With the band and crowd grinning throughout, it could be forgotten that the main draw was the music, at least until each new song started. Go Get Gone is an accomplished debut and it was certainly showcased to best effect with the rousing Train’s Leaving and the piano-led duet She Don’t Live Here .
With so much good music to fit in, Zoë didn’t get a chance to demonstrate how she used to clog dance to Declan Bennett’s band when she was 7. A promise is a promise, hair hero!
Of course, the best bands leave the crowd wanting more and I for one can’t wait until they release the closing song, All I’ve Got (the uncensored version, of course!)
Go Get Gone is out now on Bread and Butter Music. Head to worrydollsmusic.com for music and tour dates.
“Welcome to St. Pancras very Old Church. Thank you to God for having me back”
Declan Bennett accompanied his opening song by tapping the body of his electro-acoustic. When picked up by the soaring church acoustics, the effect was haunting, like ominous unseen footsteps. The unconventional lyrics signalled a mind less ordinary: “my brain feels like Scrabble and I’m losing”.
Having just thanked God, he launched into a deliciously dirty song about the “physical part of a relationship.” Residue was an extended jam building from a capella singing to frantic cacophony, via a loop pedal and “sound babies” popping from the guitar.
Despite his tendency towards controlled chaos, the sound become really interesting when he stepped back into simply singing. Freer was a tender track with sweet falsetto, lamenting having let a good thing go; “quite possibly the worst decision I’ve made – so far!”
The set ended as it started, on an interestingly unsettling note, as Bennet song into the guitar’s sound hole. It looped and layered until the noise ebbed away into the darkness.
Declan Bennett’s EP, Unsolicited Material, is out soon.
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