Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Jose Vanders / Little Palm / Gemma Quarterman @ The Rainbow, Monday 21st July 2008

Fridays, Wednesdays, Mondays...see I told you this Kamikaze! lot were at it all the time. I'm not complaining though, especially with a bill as strong, and different, as this one. Yes, tonight was a mini ladyfest. Three artists. All female. Makes a real (and refreshing) change from the norm. First up was the lovely Gemma, who I'd seen before with her band Le Retrovailles. (RIP). Impressed by her voice last time, I was blown away by it on this gig. I think I remember comparing her to a female Jeff Buckley (high praise indeed) on the last review and she really does have that same kind of emotional intensity, range and control. Hush remains her masterpiece but there's a whole bunch of other great songs just waiting in the wings. There was one that had a lyric about 'too many crosses by your name'...that might even have been the title...whatever it's called, I loved it.

Next up another artist I was seeing for the second time, Little Palm (aka Anna Palmer). I think the last gig I saw her play was one of her first. Naturally she was a little nervous but I do remember being really darn impressed by her raw talent. This time, some months (and gigs) later, and with quality backing from a number of other musicians (including a violin...good call) she oozed confidence. Her voice has a bluesy kind of tinge and I got a bit of early Alicia Keys in places (listen to Now for instance) rather than Tori Amos (who she's been compared to before). But, like all great artists (and I include all of those who played tonight in this category) she adds her own unique touch. Vulnerable but defiant, young but with a maturity that belies her years, she is, to quote one of her own tracks, Magic.

Last up, and maintaining the high standard, was Jose Vanders. Unlike Gemma and Little Palm (both local artists) Jose was on nationwide tour. Not sure if she'd played Brum before but she had a fair old crowd right up at the front of the stage. After a little digging on t'net it's clear that Jose's rapidly attracting a loyal fanbase (even blogging 'queen' Perez - not Paris - Hilton is a fan). Having seen her I can see why. With song titles like Mother Theresa Can't Dive and Madame Lenormand it's clear we're in more eclectic territory than most artists of her age. I love Regina Spektor and there's a definite Spektorish quality to some of the tracks. But Jose's got a softer, folkier voice. Her lyrics are more emotionally based too, capturing just what it's like to be 18 and in love. These days I find it's all too rare when an artist really connects with an audience on this kind of level, but Jose did. I've not been 18 for a year or two...oh, alright then a decade or two...but I left this gig with more of a spring in my step than when I went in. And that's the sign of a very, very good gig. Congratulations to all concerned. Tonight was special.
Tomorrow night I return to the Rainbow for ex Moldy Peach Toby Goodshank...I think I may have to move in...

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