April 9, 2019
Green Note, London
“Someone tells you to be quiet and listen to some songs – I’m just going to go with it and assume that’s why you’re here”
Jamie Freeman started out with the title track of his EP, Hasia Dreams, inspired by a refugee child who would sleep to dream she was with her parents again.
Freeman’s shows are enlivened with self-deprecating stand-up. “Wow, is that really what I was going to play next?!” was his response to glancing at his own setlist. He made the split-second decision to play the title track of his previous record instead. It was a brave decision; largely a capella other than a stomp box beat.
After a short fight with the guitar over tuning – “in the heat, they just want to lie on a fucking velvet bed,” he quipped, glancing at the plush lined guitar case – Freeman played one of his newest songs. He wrote The Fire with Ben Glover about the Grenfell tragedy, from the point of view of the flames. [For another example of the inanimate object lyrical perspective, check out Amber Rubarth’s exquisite song, Rough Cut. She and Freeman both performed at the recent AMA UK showcase festival].
Speaking of members of Applewood Road, Freeman then played The Man I Want To Be which he co-wrote with another fellow AMA UK showcaser, Amy Speace. The performance came complete with a classic country guitar part and whistling. This was a big deal for Freeman, having once lost his whistling mojo following an unpleasant incident with dental anaesthetic and a crunchy baguette.
“A drinking song written by a teetotaler” and The Wild Ponies was intriguing even before Amelia White joined in on the choruses, then so did the crowd.
There was a lot of goodwill in the room, especially following a few slips with new lyrics. Freeman’s good humour about it helped: “Fuck me! Honestly, it’s a good song!”
He ended with his latest single, All In The Name:” it’s a terribly sad song but it’s upbeat!”
Head to Freeman’s website to pre-order his album, Dreams About Falling, and check out his forthcoming tour dates including his full band show at the album release party in Lewes on May 16.
“I was worried about our country. I was worried about your country.”
After praising the punk-inspired energy of Freeman’s set, White calmed the crowd with her clear diction and authentic sound.
She related having a profound “take me away, Calgon” moment while watching rain on a skylight and experiencing a moment of political concern. Unfortunately, she’s realised that the Calgon bath bubbles advert didn’t air in the UK. Still, the resultant song, Rhythm of The Rain, has made it to the UK along with White’s album of the same name.
The bluesy song Sugar Baby sounded especially good with double bass accompaniment from Scott Warman. White got the measure of the crowd from their reaction to it: “I see how you are, you like that dark, sleazy stuff!”
Turns out this was something she’d already suspected. Whilst stretching out on the floor at another venue, she found a tube of lube and learned that Brits weren’t as proper as she’d thought!
Dogs Bark had the room laughing even before the ‘blah, blah, blah’ backing vocals. The guitar and double bass interplay worked especially well.
Talking of interplay, White was there for a bit of fun with her support. “Hey, Jamie Freeman, I messed up a couple of words so you would feel better!” Freeman was ready for it, jokingly shooting back a withering “Thanks for mentioning it!”
White’s set was very much about storytelling, much as her songs were. She spoke about the main problem in an age gap relationship. It wasn’t the age difference itself, just the fact that the partner didn’t like Lucinda Williams. Warman’s face says it all; cardinal sin!
Goodbye Today was written in the wake of the Newtown schools shooting; a by-product of a scheduled writing session unexpectedly coinciding with a tragic moment in history. Black Doves was similarly powerful, about those left behind after war.
On a more personal level, White mined the extremes of emotions that come with a precarious career in music: “it’s not an easy job, it’s not practical at all …I quit every other day.” One day in particular encapsulated the highs and lows of touring, going from sitting in a airport terminal waiting for a delayed plane likely to miss the show, to unexpectedly finding out she’d been reviewed in Rolling Stone.
In a night of songs and stories shared by White and backed up by Warman, the best tale involved them both. Putting a dog down is usually the worst part of the day, unless White’s your house guest, it seems. In the U.S., kettles go on the hob to boil whereas our plastic electric kettles don’t mix well with open flames. That’s how Warman ended up coming home to a smoky kitchen and a ruined appliance! The mishap doesn’t seem to have affected their delightful relationship one bit.
The highlight of the set was left to last when White stepped into the audience to sing an unplugged version of Lucky. Singalongs and goosebumps all round.
Amelia White’s UK tour with Scott Warman continues until May 3. Head to her website to check the dates. If you’re anywhere near Deal in Kent and can make it to The Lighthouse on April 26, you’ll get the added accompaniment of multi-instrumentalist Champion of The World Thomas Collison, who also joined the pair for their Hastings show.
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