July 5, 2018
The Bedford, London
The July Round Up songwriters’ round, in the midst of the World Cup, relocated to Balham for one night only.
“We’d written this song that was so Bond it’s ridiculous”
There have been 14 broadly country and Americana Round Ups which surely contributed to the collective intake of breath when Never The Bride started. Imagine Meatloaf and Bon Jovi getting together to write a West End rock musical…then getting shoved out of the way by Nikki, who’s got it covered, thank you very much!
During the set, she turned to her duet partner Been on keyboard and admitted the truth: “our cover’s been blown; we’re a rock ‘n’ roll band!”
Nikki’s theatrical performance even wrong-footed Darren Hodson, AKA The Southern Companion. He started too early after a faux ending; a performance faux pas. Luckily, the Never The Bride duo found it hilarious.
They followed April Rain with Betty’s Song. The performance was just as exuberant. It seemed that Nikki was just as taken with Isi as Two Ways Home were with Never The Bride: “if you have a sister, I’d like her number!”
Mind That Child had a poignant backstory. It was inspired by a boy that Nikki had babysat as a child, all full of promise, who was later found alone in flat, having overdosed. Nikki mused that no-one had asked the right questions to stop him going down the wrong path. The band have raised over £10,000 for Bristol Drugs Project to help others.
Their final song, the Bond-esque tune The Living Tree, had been performed by none other than Shirley Bassey following a persistent effort to get her attention through a helpful concierge. Nikki took inspiration from the experience to keep pushing to achieve dreams; “all they can say is no.”
“Hanging out with all those other horrible little bastards”
Don’t worry, The Southern Companion wasn’t talking about The Round Up. He was referring to a children’s party! He kept the crowd laughing with his deadpan humour throughout.
His poignant song Billy’s Brother was slower than the version he performed at the special Christmas edition of The Round Up held in conjunction with Katy Hurt and friends but still a hard-hitting song.
He continued to be thrown by Never The Bride’s performance and banter: “I’m not quite sure how to follow that” he half-joked, half admitted. Later he said “yet again I’m completely dumbfounded.”
Songbird and Crash were followed by Lie To Me, with all-in guitar work. With deep, John Moreland style vocals in Can I Get A Witness, The Southern Companion sang about the vagaries of life lived online in 2018 on “FaceSwap and Twatter”: “share every moment without sharing at all.” Nonetheless, he encouraged the crowd to follow him on all the usual socials (operated by his wife!)
“All the best songs are sad”
Beth Keeping has her own experience of songwriters’ rounds, having recently toured the country with Emily Faye and one of August’s Round Up participants, Vic Allen, on their Write Like A Girl tour.
Strangers In The Same City was a break-up song, specifically about acceptance of a breakup. Keeping had a lovely tone to her voice.
Naked had a strong hook, followed up by Same Stars Someday in which The Southern Companion played a solo high on the neck. Keeping ended with No Hard Feelings.
“If you liked what you heard, please give us some money”
In response to Keeping’s first song, Two Ways Home’s Lewis Fowler acknowledged that they’d been strangers in the same city as they share many mutual friends but had never met before.
As usual, Isi Mariee was more interested in the practicalities; harmonies, hustling the merch, and acknowledging that she was sitting on the ‘wrong side’ this time around so had to get used to turning a different way!
The duo started out with a down tempo version of Closest Stranger. Then everyone’s favourite co-writer Kaity Rae joined them for a rendition of Tattoo.
Later, guitarist Michael Clancy joined them for an Eagles inspired song variously called Vegas Wheel or Alright.
They closed the set with the now customary singalong to Push and Pull.
The Round Up is returning to The Colonel Fawcett in Camden on August 2 with Two Ways Home hosting O&O, Lauren Housley and Vic Allen. Check Facebook for details.
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