Sarah Blasko @ Jazz Cafe 13th February 2011

The HMV Next Big Thing festival drew to a close with 4 fantastic shows being played all around the capital. The bands playing for this final night included Funeral For A Friend, Funeral Party and Pete Lawrie. I had opted to see Aussie Sarah Blasko playing at the wonderful Jazz Cafe. I arrived at the venue at 6.10pm. Yes 6.10 may be late in my books but I was outside before the hordes of people turned up. Even though this event was a sell out people still arrived hoping for a ticket on the door. Since Caro Emerald pulled out a while back the thought had crossed my mind that there would be some tickets left as this was a co headline show. The doors opened a little after 7pm. The DJ set kicked things off. I am not a huge fan of DJ sets as it’s just standing around waiting for the first act to come on. Also it is very rare that the DJ plays music that matches your taste in music.

Sophie Barker was the replacement for Caro Emerald and she took to the stage at 8.45pm. Barker is best known for her work with Zero 7. In 2006 she released solo album Earthbound and the year before that saw the release of Lullaby. Now this album was full of soothing night time songs for children. Currently she is with Ho Hum Records recording the long awaited 3rd LP Seagull. Now this set was the perfect showcase of the new material. At only 8 songs this was relatively short especially for a co headline show. Still I cant complain because this was mellowing folk music which I completely adored. After that performance I will definately be keeping tabs on Sophie Barker and any forthcoming live dates. Seagull is released 9th May 2011 and features the single Say Goodbye which is released on 14th March. Sophie is well worth a listen too.

SET LIST

Paradise Lost
Seagull
Say Goodbye
Home
Maybe I
Bluebell
Paper Thin
Insight

At 10pm Blasko took to the stage. I first came across Sarah’s music last year as the third album As Day Follows Night was due to be released on record store day last April. The Jazz Cafe is the perfect venue after having seen Lissie and Paloma Faith play there for HMV Next Big Thing last year. The set list was As Day Follows Night heavy. This was good for me but to the fans that have followed Blasko’s career since the debut album The Overture & The Underscore this could of been slightly dissapointing due to the fact that there was no oldies played. Now this performance was outstanding and it was over in a flash. Opening the night was the haunting Down On Love and there was a huskiness in Sarah’s voice. The song was gentle, mellowing and light at the same time. Following immediately after was Bird On A Wire. Now this song had a very heavy drumbeat which was right next to her. This song was fantastic  and then it was onto the slightly uptempo Hold Onto My Heart. Actually this song sounds slightly poppier and perkier at the same time. Blasko even removed the microphone from it’s stand only to do a quirky dance. She definately had the audience in the palm of her hand as there was silence throughout each song.  “I hope everybody is well” Sarah asked the crowd. After plenty of applause she then went onto say “It’s always important to check”. Over And Over was the next on the night. Again this was another poppier number which went down a treat with the audience. Lost And Defeated came after a rapture of applause. This song was delivered superbly. There is something about her silky smooth husky vocals that completely entrance me. Sarah then introduced her band and mention that she was bad at introduductions. The next song however was We Won’t Run which was simply incredible. After Sarah then recounted her trip to India “I saw the Taj Mahal, so I can go on with my life now. I’m just sad the black marble one didn’t get made which I didn’t realise that there was another one meant to be built across the water from the Taj Mahal“.  Sleeper Awake was next and this was a full blown version of the song which had the addition of violins which sounded outstanding. This song was one of my favourites of the night. I was standing in awe watching Sarah singing this song perfectly. Once the song had finished there was a rapture of applause. Ben strummed some strings which had the audience laughing. “It’s amazing what the banjo can do” Blasko said before launching into sad song I Never Knew. Now this song was powerful and just like Sarah said it was a sad song. “We’ve been alloted 45 minutes and we don’t want to break any rules” Sarah said before people were asking her to break the rules. Honestly I could hear her play for hours and 45 minutes is clearly not enough as Blasko has so many gems. All I Want was the next song on the night and it is slightly haunting. Penultimate song No Turning Back had a heavy beat. Ending the night was a song which was minus drummer and bassist. Sarah then makes her thankyous before revealing that this week she will be writing the next album. The song Night and Day felt slightly magical which had me captivated till the ending momement. This was a slow song  and the keys were completely entrancing. So after a rapture of applause everyone then started exiting the Jazz Cafe after having witnessed something truely remarkable.

SET LIST

Down On Love
Bird On A Wire
Hold On My Heart
Over And Over
Lost And Defeated
We Won’t Run
Sleeper Awake
I Never Knew
All I Want
No Turning Back
Night And Day

OVERALL: This night was special in so many ways. Out of all the Next Big Thing gigs taking place on the same date this was the one to be at. Sarah has an outstanding voice that can easily stun a crowd to complete silence. Even though this was my first time seeing Blasko live I know for sure it wont be my last.

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