The Saturday line up in the very intimate setting of the O2’s NY-LON lounge was very “ Belles and Gals “ orientated ….well worth an early morning alarm call for me! Sitting in a comfy chair in the front row, it was practically like having a private concert in my living room and I felt honoured to see so many great female artists perform “ up close and personal”. The sound throughout was excellent too, no mean feat with the variety of acts appearing.
It was UK trio The Adelaides who opened proceedings, having heard great things about these ladies I was excited to see them for the first time and their three song set didn’t disappoint. Opening with the ballad “ No Survivors” early nerves quickly dispelled and it was immediately evident that their strong individual vocals also harmonised beautifully. They visibly relaxed and enjoyed themselves on “ What Your Heart Would Say” which was dedicated to anyone who’d been dumped, with the upbeat “ Jelly Baby” rounding off their set strongly.
Who wouldn’t be excited to see the fabulous Lindsay Ell in such a cosy setting and she and her three band members took to the stage next, what a treat for the now packed room. Her seven song set ( all tracks from “ The Project” which was re-released especially for the UK market yesterday) demonstrated what an all-round talent this Canadian native is. Vocals were perfection, guitar playing genuinely jaw dropping and yep she writes amazing songs too! A real class act, playing to the crowd and born to perform. “ I Love You London “ she told us after performing her album favourite “ Castle” and before announcing her new single “Waiting on You” , and judging by the reception to each song the feeling was mutual. Hard to pick but I thought “ Space” ( with its stunning guitar intro) sounded particularly brilliant.
Delta Rae were another group I was seeing to see for the first time, and I must say that they really truly blew me away ( for want of a better phrase!) . Actually a six-piece band they were appearing in stripped down form as a foursome, three siblings and one mutual friend all hailing from North Carolina. Their experience of playing together for many years shone through their tight, confident set. Both female members ( Liz and Brittany) have strong and expressive voices individually ( they shared lead vocals) and the group’s harmonies were wonderful. They released their first EP “ A Long And Happy Life” last year, as well as its title track they performed their heart wrenching break up song “ No Peace in Quiet” also on the EP.
All Good People” followed, a powerful write inspired by a mass shooting by a white supremacist in a church in South Carolina…… “ we wish we hadn’t had to write this one” they told us. Trying to leave the stage after that proved impossible, there were calls for another song and they obliged with the heavily gospel-influenced “ No Dry Eye In The Chapel”. Can’t wait to see a full set from this band!
Last but definitely not least as far as female representation is concerned was the fabulous Stephanie Quayle, who got a rapturous reception for only her second ever UK appearance. Flanked by cajon and lead guitar players, she commanded the stage from the start, like Lindsay her small frame hiding a big voice! Of course she had to include “ Drinkin’ With Dolly” ( a song she knew she just had to have the moment she heard it!) and which Ms Parton herself actually contacted her about to show her appreciation! The song featured on her most recent album “ Love The Way You See Me” as did the majority she performed including what she called “ one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard” which is ironically titled “ Ugly”! I’d heard co-writer Nicolle Galyon showcase this at the CMA Songwriters Series on Thursday, it really is a moving write and I loved both interpretations….” those lyrics rip my guts out every time i sing it “ Stephanie told us. But she lifted our spirits back up straight away ( a very versatile performer) with the roll-your-windows-down-and sing-along “ Winnebago” . All too soon it was time for her final number, picking up her guitar she told us she’d written “ Selfish” with two friends in Nashville one morning when she was feeling “ a little feisty” ( I can’t believe she’d ever NOT feel that way to be honest!). It taps into her feelings of wanting to spend more time with her husband and is her latest single which is being really well received stateside, with the video recently premiering on CMT.