Live review: Ethemia @ Andersons Bar Thursday 7th February 2013
From the moment Michaela Mott and Berny Poulton arrived in Anderson’s Bar for their soundcheck they seemingly cast a musical spell over the venue, almost as though they had sprinkled their own invisible Ethemia magic dust. The genuine passion and desire this magnificent acoustic duo share for their specific genres of music is without doubt overwhelming in such a positive way. The gig purely comprising their own stunning folk/rock/pop/country compositions, something they feel strongly about doing, showcased all of their breathtaking debut album “Quirk Of Fate” in addition to some enchanting new songs literally penned as recently as this past week, thus meaning they were being performed and improvised for the first time although their flawless execution belied that fact. These numbers, I am hoping, will feature on their second release which is currently being recorded, there is certainly an abundance of material as Michaela and Berny are extremely prolific writers. It should be explained at this stage that they both had very successful careers as solo artists prior to forming Ethemia in 2011 but upon joining forces an incredible chemistry evolved which has pushed them to new heights and beyond. So, on with the set, for review purposes I have chosen to focus solely on the tracks taken from “Quirk Of Fate”.
“Fingerprints On Me” introduced us to and instantly highlighted Michaela’s immensely versatile vocal range with her sweet, soothing tones and intoxicating falsetto. Meanwhile, the duo interweaved intricate guitar picking and chord progressions with crystal clarity, a common trend throughout all of their exquisite arrangements. “Katie Kate” conveyed an exceptionally catchy groove with vibrant fluidity, already Ethemia were delivering beautifully tight harmonies reminiscent of West Coast influences such as Fleetwood Mac. “If You Fall” brought Berny’s wonderfully subtle voice to the fore in this beautifully constructed wistful ballad before the tempo was taken up a notch with the scintillating driving rhythm and compelling hook portrayed on Michaela’s delightfully melodious “Moments“. Her astonishing vocal repertoire, which proved to be a consistent trait, was there for all to bear witness to. Ethemia have been described as the hardest working band in the business due to their insatiable appetite for gigging and the perfection they command of their craft clearly illustrates this. “Do You Still Blame Me” once more demonstrated Berny’s tremendous depth of melancholic lyrics filled with a raw emotional dynamic. The warmth of his mellow, heartfelt singing and easy listening style was again evident on the sensitively poignant “Without“.
Ethemia’s meticulously honed skills and professionalism should come as no surprise due to the fact they have extensive experience from performing at both high profile and exclusive events, not to mention many hours of live radio shows and interviews, predominantly in the south of England where they are based. “Falling Down” was another sublimely orchestrated piece of work, again exhibiting slick acoustic guitar and containing Michaela’s smooth, serene vocal. “In Love“, an immaculately polished duet performed with great intensity and cool vibe, would hold any audience in the palm of their hand. Not only did Michaela take to the mic but also augmented the sound with an accompanying percussion by way of a Cajon box drum, not an easy feat to achieve simultaneously.
“Honestly“, with its fabulous foot tapping beat, was truly captivating and Michaela’s majestically expressive singing offered us the opportunity to hear her vast array of talents. Berny’s soulfully evocative “I Am The Same” imbued the delicate finesse and authenticity which captures the very essence of Ethemia’s atmospheric music. “Silly Girl” carried with it a superb lilt, the power and feel in Michaela’s elegantly spellbinding voice was a constant hypnotic source of pleasure. Her display of sustained vibrato, intonation, phrasing and diction were masterful throughout the entire evening. Whether applied to a haunting ballad or of an upbeat nature each approach was equally enticing to the enthralled bar clientele. The absorbing enthusiasm and spiritual quality which Berny poured into every single one of his poetic songs was never more apparent than in his live rendition of “I Will Pray For You“, a supreme performance which typified the whole show.
Even to the very end Ethemia charmed their fans with the inspired idea of handing out keepsakes such as envelopes containing individual, unique handwritten personal quotes from their album. Their burgeoning reputation will assuredly only continue to grow as they win over new fans across the country and indeed all over the world having already received invitations to perform as far afield as the U.S. From my perspective this event was a rare treat, however Michaela and Berny have already promised to return to Liverpool very soon where they will again be made most welcome. I would encourage anyone to attend their phenomenal gigs and become enlightened by two outstandingly gifted musicians who care so much about their art and their followers. From start to finish Ethemia were quite simply a joy to behold.