Sophie Ellis Bextor at Bush Hall was always going to be a special one. The new LP Wanderlust had just been released making this the album launch. Even though I booked this gig on the basis of Young Blood, I still booked the first Union Chapel date this coming April. After having been one of the lucky hundreds to witness this spectacle I’m extremely tempted to book for the 2nd night at Union Chapel. Aside from all of that I turn up at the venue around 1.30pm mainly because I had a friend who was getting there early as he travelled down especially. It was bitter outside and we were both hoping to catch Sophie going in. She arrived at 5pm and literally I was frozen. I can’t stress enough how down to earth Sophie actually was. It came as a surprise that my friend and I were the only 2 there at that time. This was my first Sophie gig and I didn’t know how to judge it. Sometimes artists can have a big European fanbase.
One thing nobody seemed to know is who the actual support act was. Bush Hall said there was one but failed to say the name. There was some talk about the support being Lulu James who I previously saw play on The Great Escape last January. In the end it turned out not to be true as we saw the support act go in to do the soundcheck. Once inside it came as a surprise that there was no actual stage times listed. So I was completely oblivious until they took to the stage. Supporting was a brand new duo called Billington & Quinn. Now the two members were Tom Billington and Sinéad Quinn. Yes that is Sinéad who took part in the 1st series of Fame Academy plus she was robbed of a #1 single as I Can’t Break Down was beaten to the top spot by T.a.T.u’s All The Things She Said back in 2003.
The set that they sang consisted of 8 songs most being originals and a couple being covers. Also you had the Theme from The Lost Hobo added into the mix. Basically they are like marmite. Now the style of the music that they sang was Roots/ Country. As I have heard this style of music performed live before I can appreciate it. Billington & Quinn were amazing live and I look forward to when I do see them again in the future. Other than singing together they did have there own individual song with the other providing the harmonies.
The first two numbers of the short but sweet set were original compositions. First up you had Gone Gone Gone which both Tom and Sinéad sang. I picked up on the Roots vibe straight away. Now I rather liked this. The song itself was upbeat and the vocals were impeccable. Straight after it was onto Can’t Please ‘Em All which was a Sinéad solo with harmonies provided by Tom. This had to be my favourite original. Sinéad’s vocals were entrancing and the song itself had a dash of emotion from the lyrics. When witnessing this live it reminded me of The Simpsons episode Colonel Homer where Homer manages a country singer called Lurleen Lumpkin. Both Tom Billington and Sinéad Quinn had their own parts for this Bruce Springsteen cover of I’m On Fire. Tom even played his harmonica. I must say the Billington & Quinn take on this song was simply outstanding. Up next was Waking Up which was a Tom solo song with Sinéad adding in the harmonies. I must say this song was superb as it showed off Billington’s strong vocal range. Also most people chanted away to the woah oh parts. Sinéad took the lead for Mama’s Broken Heart with Tom adding in the harmonies. This had been well crafted and it showcases how talented they are when it comes to writing songs. Just like Gone Gone Gone this was extremely upbeat, infectious and I liked the fact you could picture the story to it. Also Sinéad literally belted out this wonderful original.
The Theme From ‘The Lost Hobo’ was the next to be played. Yes I may not of been familiar with this when I saw it listed on the set list. The moment they got stuck into it the song itself became recognisable. It may have been short and sweet but it was perfectly delivered. The penultimate tune of the set was Run To My Rescue. Sinéad had placed her guitar down for this. This original opened up with Tom singing a few lines before Sinéad came in with her luscious vocals. Run To My Rescue has been record in a studio and it comes as no surprise because I completely adored this. The vocal delivery was pure perfection whilst Sinéad’s vocal range was out of this world. The set ended with Tom changing to a banjo. It was then onto a cover which had been given an intriguing Country twist. This being the Whitney Houston classic I Wanna Dance With Somebody which turned into a sing along. Words cannot describe how amazing the Billington & Quinn twist on this song actually was.
Gone Gone Gone
Can’t Please ‘Em All
I’m On Fire
Mama’s Broken Heart
Theme From ‘The Lost Hobo’
Run To My Rescue
I Wanna Dance With Somebody
OVERALL: This is the first time I have reviewed the support act in their own separate review.
My thoughts on Billington & Quinn are completely positive. Both Tom and Sinéad have something extremely special and they are a cracking combination. Each song sung was pure brilliance and the originals showcased the excellent song writing. I may of said I really liked Can’t Please ‘Em All and Mama’s Broken Heart but I found Waking Up to be equally as good. Both sets of vocals were extraordinary. Tom’s were easy on the ear and mellowing. Whist Sinéad’s were entrancing and powerful. I must mention how amazing the covers actually were. The set closer of I Wanna Dance With Somebody gave me a tingling/ happy feeling inside.
The one thing I like about support acts is they can surprise you. I was surprised as I knew nothing about them before hand which was a good thing as I was completely won over the moment they performed Gone Gone Gone.