Charlene Soraia @ The Borderline 6th February 2012

This was my penultimate HMV Next Big Thing gig. I arrived outside The Borderline at 5.30pm imagining that there would be other people there as the snow still hadn’t cleared. But when I arrived I was the only one there and the next person didn’t turn up until 30 minutes before doors opened. I mainly purchased my ticket to see the wonderful Charlene Soraia as her solo gigs at The Enterprise towards the end of February were both sold out. Prior to the gig I was debating whether to stay till the end or just leave after the support. When I searched the internet for music by Sweet Billy Pilgrim I then made up my mind that I would leave early. I also looked into Katzenjammer and when I heard Rock Paper Scissors I knew they would be amazing.

The night kicked off with Charlene Soraia. “It looks very chilled out tonight doesn’t it, a bit scarily calm. There must be something in the water, I didn’t put it in there I swear not this night. So I’m Charlene Soraia and I’m gonna play you some music before the rest of the night music carries on” Soraia said the moment she took to the stage. Charlene actually had a point it was very chilled out. This was a major surprise to me considering she has sold out 2 nights at The Enterprise, Latest Music Bar and Wherever You Will Go peaked at #3 due to it featuring on the Twinings advert. Also it was a great shame that such an incredible musician was put on first. “So I’m going to play one called Bike. It’s not about bikes but it just made sense to just call it bike at the time. It’s not about a girl whose a bike either. I mean it could be if you want it to be that. That could work as well” Charlene said wittingly. Bike was superbly sung and Soraia’s vocals were really strong. The fact it was just hear belting out this song made it even more extraordinary. Also this song was rather smooth. “So Merry Christmas. With all the snow, well there is no snow left now. I’ve been feeling really Christmassy. So I even bought, this is really sad you know Clementines, I love the smell of them and it’s always Christmas when I get those. But I bought some on my own. I was even thinking of buying myself a Christmas present and tearing a twig from a tree and sticking it in the living room and pretending its Christmas. But that would have been a step to far. So I just stick with the Clementines” Soraia said after when she had sung Bike. “I’m going to play one called Postcards From iO. iO is one of the moons of Jupiter. I thought it was the one made from ice but that’s Ganymede which is more like a disease that you might catch or one that stands that you don’t find about for 12 years. That’s never happened to me, but you know apparently it happens to the best of us. I don’t know if that’s true. Stick around I’ll be doing my Comedy act right at the end of the show. I’m back to seriousness” Charlene then said before getting stuck into Postcards From iO. The song had a Folk vibe to it plus the chorus was extremely up tempo. “I’m trying to think of something funny to say but I can’t. This one is called Rowing or Rowing coz I’m not with the guy anymore I wrote it about because he’s a d*ck, but he knows that so it’s fine. Well he knows that now” she then went onto stay before launching into Rowing. At first this song started off at a slow pace and then got more steady when it progressed. Actually this song was rather catchy and went down well with the intimate audience.

“So this is my organ, its not really my organ. That sounded really rude this is my organ. I love for a guy to say that , that would be hilarious. I’ve got an album that came out in November, its called Moonchild but I think my next album will be called Organ just for the sheer hell of it. I would just have pictures of organs on it. All types of Organs not Organisms though” Charlene then said before launching into Wherever You Will Go. This was the track that put Soraia in the public eye due to the fact it featured on the Twinings advert. This song peaked at #3 and in a way it was ashame that a cover version brings her to the public’s attention. I say this because Charlene is an incredible singer songwriter and even though she makes her take on The Calling’s Wherever You Will Go her very own she did not write it herself. Back to this song Charlene sang it beautifully and the fact she was twiddling the knobs on the stall in front of her made it even more mezmerising. “So that was a cover, this one’s not a cover and I always feel playing this song after that one. It’s about a girl who f**ked my boyfriend and she’s quite famous now. I did write this song about her and it’s called (Does She Fake Her) Cumface? Feel free to laugh” Soraia said before getting stuck into the song. (Does She Fake Her) Cumface? Is a quirky light hearted song which Charlene doesn’t take seriously. There was a Jazz feel to this song and everyone was laughing to the hilarious lyrics.

“Enough about that chick. This is a baritone guitar. I first saw this guitar when I was about 8 and I fell in love with it and I bought one for myself. And now I’m in love with it and we’ve had a steady relationship for about the last 3 years. Probably the most solid and stable thing in my life right now. I’ve written this thing on it called Animal and you gotta imagine a big drum and bass feel. I’m not joking, I wish I could play the drums at the same time, but I don’t have enough limbs” Charlene said before getting stuck into Animal. Soraia said that this song was about being an Animal for someone. This song which is a new one doesn’t feature on the album was rather impressive. The guitar chords where rather heavy and she delivered it to perfection. Charlene also told the audience to imagine the snare drum and the fact she can hear it in her head. “It’s quite satisfying playing the baritone for me, in a way that some people might be satisfied by sex. What’s going on it’s coz I’m not plugged in sometimes that helps. Especially in sex as well. If your having marital problems I’m probably not the best to ask advice from” Soraia said after Animal got a good reception. The wonderful set was coming to an end and one song was remaining. “I will just do one more then coz I don’t want them to get angry at me. See I didn’t originally think I’d be doing the cum face song in my set but it’s usually one I just play on my own when I’m really sad and lonely. So I don’t know if anyone is about in April but on the 25th I’m playing the Union Chapel. So if anyone wants to come to that it would be nice to see you. It’s a really lovely venue, It’s a venue like this but in a church and much bigger with natural re-verb. It’s so much like this venue actually. You should come here on a Sunday when they do prayer it’s amazing” Charlene said before ending with Daffodils. This blissful song was extremely soft and the vocals were outstanding.

SET LIST

Bike
Postcards From IO
Rowing
Wherever You Will Go
(Does She Fake Her) Cumface?
Animal
Daffodils

Second on the night were Katzenjammer. This Norwegian band consisted of Anne Marit Bergheim, Marianne Sveen, Solveig Heilo, Turid Jørgensen. The set consisted of songs from both Le Pop and forthcoming album A Kiss Before You Go. “Hello everybody, it’s a pleasure to be here tonight. We are Katzenjammer” Heilo said before launching into Rock Paper Scissors. Like most of the songs on the night it was taken from the sophomore album A Kiss Before You Go. This song was hypnotic and had luscious lyrics. Maybe it was the combination of instruments that did this for me. Well the genre of the material sung was Folk/ Country. Like Charlene, Katzenjammer seriously have the potential to headline their very own HMV Next Big Thing. “As you might see there’s a little changing going on, on stage right now. We have a concept that we switch around on the instruments” Solveig went onto say before saying Anne Marit would be a one women orchestra playing accordion, glockenspiel and harmonica. It was then onto I Will Dance (When I Walk Away) which was rather pacey. There is something about foreign music that makes it really entrancing. “We’re going to sing a Swedish tune for you, normally we say it’s Norwegian but not today” Turid said to the audience before they got stuck into Mother Superior. This song was incredible at first it started as chant and all the vocals gelled together which was excellent and spine tingling. Then Jørgensen delivered this fantastic song strongly. It then was into Land Of Confusion which Marianne sang. This was a take on the Genesis version and they put their own stamp of individuality onto the song. “Our next album is released May 7th so buy it, it’s A Kiss Before You Go that’s the name. This is one of the songs from the album it’s called Cocktails And Ruby Slippers” Anne Marit said after telling the audience a Norwegian phrase. Cocktails And Ruby Slippers was a laid back song with some really infectious lyrics which were delivered with plenty of passion. This song was more Pop than Country and it sounded wonderful. It was then straight into A Bar In Amsterdam which gelled to the end of Cocktails. This song had a furious pace and some interesting trumpet skills by Solveig. The penultimate song being God’s Great Dust Storm and again this sent shivers up my spine as the harmonising was superb. It was then into Ain’t No Thang straight away which Marianne took to the main vocals.

SET LIST

Rock Paper Scissors
I Will Dance (When I Walk Away)
Mother Superior
Land Of Confusion
Cocktails And Ruby Slippers
A Bar In Amsterdam
God’s Great Dust Storm
Ain’t No Thang

OVERALL: This was an outstanding night. I am very surprised that both Charlene or Katzenjammer weren’t asked to headline their very own date because both acts showed massive promise of a long career in the music industry. I have previously witnessed Soraia before and that was the main reason I purchased a ticket.

All in all I was impressed by both acts and will be seeing them when they are next gigging in London.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Steve says:

    Nice review, Sam. You are right, Charlene DOES sound like a stand-up comedienne. 🙂

  2. Hey, I really like your review! Do you record all that she says during the concert? I remember her being quite funny but I forgot the best lines after the concert yesterday in Cambridge. I had very similar thoughts when I saw Charlene Soraia at the Cambridge Junction. She’s fantastic, and reminded me a bit of a young, experimental Joni Mitchell. This is what I wrote, maybe you like it 🙂 http://notnicolajames.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/charlene-soraia-the-new-joni-mitchell/

    1. Planet Music says:

      As for that review of Cambridge I read it last night. Really good 😀

      As for the banter bits I have many people who have asked me about this. The reason I include it is because I hope it captures the essence of the gig. As for Charlene if you haven’t seen her perform live before I hope that just reading the bantery bits you can pick up on her personality.

      Anyways fantastic review I read it the moment Charlene retweeted it. I am seeing her tomorrow (would of been today as well). Really looking forward to it

      1. Really interesting approach about the bantery – I like it! Although it also funnily reveals how stories and anecdotes evolve on stage during the tour. You usually only ever get this when you’re going to more gigs of the same artist. Have fun at her next concert!

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