On Thursday evening I headed to Shepherd’s Bush to see Philippa Hanna live for the first time. Philippa has made quite a splash on the country scene in recent months, especially since her recent album ‘Come Back Fighting’ hit the top of the country charts here in the UK.
The Bush Hall is a fine venue for live music – from the outside it’s black walls don’t fill you with a sense of anticipation, but inside is a completely different story, with fantastic chandeliers hanging down from the ceiling and a classic, almost retro feel to the venue. The night got off to a fine start with support sets from Jill Marie Cooper (who has a fantastic voice and an Adele-like charm) and Toby Benson (a really enjoyable set with his wife beside him).
Philippa Hanna hit the stage just after 9pm and hit the ground running with the title and opening track of her recent album, followed quickly by ‘Off the Wagon’. Both songs are uplifting and made for a great start for the large crowd gathered at the venue. At this point I wondered if it was going to be album play through, having started with the opening two tracks of ‘Come Back Fighting’. However, when the fantastic ‘Speed of Light’ started up to a loud cheer, I knew this wasn’t going to be the case.
In the middle of the set two particular songs really stood out. ‘Getting on with Life’ is perhaps my favourite song from Philippa, who has a great way of talking about her music between songs, really adding more flesh to the bones of the songs, so you come away with a greater meaning of the words. She explained that this is a track which highlights the fact that you don’t know what might be going on in another’s life, so you shouldn’t be too quick to rush to judgement.
The other highlight was ‘A Million Flowers’, a song which Philippa explained she was asked to write after the death of a child. The song is a beautiful one and knowing the context of why it was written only makes it more so. It’s a wonderful song, performed brilliantly by Philippa and I can only speak for myself, but my eyes weren’t dry at the end of it.
Philippa Hanna went viral on Facebook recently with a fantastic gospel version of Ed Sheeran’s hit ‘Perfect’ and this was a great hit with the crowd. The ending to the night was indeed ‘perfect’, as inspirational songs ‘Do the Unthinkable’, ‘The Hero’ and ‘I Am Amazing’ followed one after another, each song lifting the crowd further. The final song of the three saw the end of the set, but there was no way the crowd were going to let the singer off without an encore.
Philippa came back on (well she didn’t actually go off!) and performed ‘Arrow’ which saw literally everyone in the venue rise to their feet. This was a simply brilliant end to the night and everyone left the venue feeling a little lighter and yes, inspired.
Having seen Philippa Hanna once I would certainly go and see the Sheffield based singer again. She has a real energy in her performance and a fantastic stage presence – with a great voice to boot. A special mention goes to her great band too. Come back to London soon Philippa and come back fighting!