Time has been described as many things, a snarling beast which needs to be tamed, perhaps even hunted down and taught a lesson or two, the great leveller in which all humanity is judged by its actions or even perhaps a companion, a trusted ally in which the truth of your life is carried. Time though can also be brutally obstinate, it can make visits to a venue in your city from a very talented singer/songwriter seem as though Ice Ages come and go with quicker frequency.
For Little Sparrow, the Manchester area may be her stomping ground, a fertile one in which she has recently wowed the audiences again as part of a night with Natalie McCool but in Liverpool she gets a welcome so warm, so hospitable it would be wise to turn up in shorts and tee shirt and carrying the largest beach towel to the pool provided and with cash ready to splash out on a round of drinks.
The Liverpool public know talent when they see it, it is as engrained into the psyche as standing up for the oppressed and down trodden and the earnest applause at either end of the evening inside Leaf on Bold Street would have been loud enough to drown out crowds celebrating a win for Everton on their return to Europe earlier in the day.
Aided by her superb cellist Sarah Dale, Robbie Kavanagh and Mitch Oldham, Little Sparrow placed before the audience a half hour set in which proved in just 30 minutes it is possible to watch somebody fall hopelessly and desperately in love. The sound of a haunting cello whispers with an unbridled passion as Sarah Dale seems to lament the passing of yet another day and the guitar of Little Sparrow and her resonating voice took charge of the room, held each person close and caused hearts to perhaps flutter a little, certainly be captivated enough in which to allow to be uncaged and set free.
With songs such as By My Side, the very cool Sending The Message, the cracking The Hunted in which images of the great Canadian wilderness and its terrifying beauty haunts the landscape and yet can cause jaws to drop in awe at its musical splendour, the enjoyable Struck Gold and the closer I Found A Way rang across the upstairs room at Leaf with the precision of a heartfelt poem clinging deeply to its intended.
If only Little Sparrow would make the trip down the East Lancs Road more often, the hospitality she would receive in Liverpool would be surely be on the scale of any of its local heroes popping along to a local open-mic night, the roar would drown out even the great voice of Liverpool, the enigmatic George Sephton, playing a song to celebrate a goal in which three points were secured.
This was a wonderful set by Little Sparrow, the voice of and guitar playing, coupled with a great band made a warm September evening utterly entertaining.
Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
The candles that stand on the tables inside Leaf flicker with eager anticipation. The small draught that comes and goes as the lift that sits at the back of the hall above the clanking tea pots, the smell of food being cooked and conversations that had at the heart of them been spirited questions of the Scottish Referendum winds itself open to let out yet another selection of fans in time to see Laura James deliver a set that sat happily and comfortably with an enraptured audience.
This young woman from Carlisle took the crowd, who had been entertained fully by the talent of Little Sparrow and her band earlier in the evening, on a journey that seemed on one level a spiritual journey for her but also one in which the smile never once left her face, the beautiful songs that she had written and released complimented her, and her band’s demeanour throughout.
With Jamie Turner on keys, Andrew Stride on drums and Ben Eckersley on cello accompanying Ms. James, the set was something in which to enjoy and which the crowd could palpably see that the former L.I.P.A. student had worked so hard to make sure was right for the occasion and in which the guitar and voice were so finely tuned that Sir Chris Hoy would have failed to come close to beating even with a head start and Laura’s instrument of choice being blindfolded to even up the score.
With Laura’s first E.P. being released, the music that made the candle light seem eerily welcoming and repelled the growing shadows back to their borders, captivated and cajoled with a sweet taste of a voice that could convert the bitterness of tears into a beam so wide that it could land an aeroplane flying on one engine safely onto a crowded runway. With songs such as the opener The Water, the superb In The Book, the beautiful song that forms the E.P., Every Little Amber, Kites, the excellent Sleep Talker and the touching Rooftops, there was so much to praise Ms. James with that it would perhaps cause an embarrassment of riches if not handled properly.
Evenings are too precious to waste, in Laura James headline gig at Leaf, the evening was packed and enjoyable. Long may this young woman grow in stature!
(original reviews – Little Sparrow here & Laura James here)
Ian D. Hall was brought up in Birmingham and spent the vast majority of his teenage years in Bicester, near Oxford. He grew up loving music from a very early years.
In the last ten years Ian has written reviews for the Birmingham Evening Mail, Liverpool Live, Chris High and the University of Liverpool’s L.S. Media web site. For the last year of his graduate degree he was joint Arts Editor for L.S. Media and it has been his privilege to write on many of the arts in Liverpool, Merseyside, the U.K. and the rest of the World, having reviewed gigs as far as away as Poland and Canada.
Liverpool has been his home for the last eight years and is without doubt the most vibrant, most cultural part of the UK. His love of music and theatre has led him to see great bands and plays, not just in Liverpool but the wider artistic community. His dearest music loves are Punk, Progressive Rock, Metal, Rock, folk and pop.
Ian D. Hall graduated from the University of Liverpool in June 2012 with a degree of Bachelor of Arts with Honours in English. He now edits the Liverpool Sound and Vision website.