Ward Thomas’s extraordinary 2016 came to an end with a sold out show at The Sacker Space. This was an intimate Snug Session which left me well and truly entranced. When this was announced I was in two minds whether to attend or not. For starters I was already seeing them perform at the Brooklyn Bowl and secondly I already had a ticket to see Lissie at the Concorde 2 in Brighton. I then purchased a ticket, then I had thinking time when it came to choosing what to attend. So when the 7th came I made the decision to attend Ward Thomas (with it being Winter made me wary of trains going to and from Brighton).
Anyways it is always a nice bonus to have a show which finishes early. As expected this was a whimsical set which consisted of 10 outstanding tunes from the sophomore album Cartwheels. This set was being broadcast live on Facebook and what they didn’t get to see was the 3 song encore. This portion of the set was the Snug Session and compromised of 2 covers and one well known Christmas song. “Thank you guys for all coming out this evening. This is our first ever live Snug Session, Christmas Snug Session to be exact” Catherine mentioned to the gathered audience before opening with Good On You. Now this was so beautiful, the lyrics were soft and the vocals were so sweet. Lizzy took the reins for this sumptuous song and Catherine harmonised to perfection. After plenty of applause it was straight into Where The Sky Is. Back in 2015 this tune had the working title of Countryside. Back to this terrific tune. Where The Sky Is was a lovely ballad which both Catherine and Lizzy faultlessly delivered. The succulent vocals were so smooth and sweet at the same time. Anyways this was so tender and the lyrics left me enchanted. “Are we allowed to tell. This next song is actually going to be our next single” Lizzy said before they both delved into Boomerang. Now this is one hell of a song and it came as no surprise that this would be a single. Boomerang was an infectious tune with upbeat verses and a killer chorus “It’s like a one step forward/ Takes me two steps back/ Knowing what I try to do/ ’cause boy you got me spinning like a Boomerang/ I keep on coming back to you/ I said I keep on coming back to you”. This stripped back number left me mesmerised. Infused to the ending of Boomerang was the extraordinary Dirt And Gold. Now acoustic cut this was extremely hypnotic, this cut was so majestical and had been written to perfection. You had vibrant verses and an umtempo chorus “You’re on a crowded city pavement flooded with rain/ You see a sick dance floor and it’s calling your name/ AHey! Oh yeah/ To you there’s no such thing as a dead end street/ It’s all about a part of how you gotta follow your dreams/ AHey! Oh yeah/ Oh looking down an unpaved road/ Everyone else sees dirt but you see gold”. “So how’s everyone doing this evening?” Lizzy then asked the audience before they launched themselves into the 2nd Cartwheels single and this being Guilty Flowers. This was flawlessly delivered, Catherine and Lizzy’s vocal tones were so sweet and the whole stripped back nature of this tune left me in a trance. Basically Guilty Flowers was ever so dreamy along with lyrics which you feel obliged to sing along to “I should’a known, I could’a told you you were lying/ Fool me once, fool me twice, oh, stupid me/ I didn’t want to doubt, didn’t want to find out/ But now I know/ Coz you came home with/ Guilty flowers/ Guilty flowers”. It was then time for a bit of Material. Now this was so impeccable, Catherine and Lizzy sublimely delivered this wondrous tune to perfection and the lyrics left me in a dream like state “If all we are is material/ Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter/ If all I see is the outside, not the inside It matters/ You’re my entire universe/ And I wanna be, the sun and all your stars/ I wanna be where you are/ What you are/ Material”. It was then time for the hypnotising Almost Easy. Now this was a beautiful key board led ballad with dashes of emotion. The lyrics depicted a relationship breakdown which did bring a lump to my throat because you can picture what’s happening “If I was only losing you/ Goodbye wouldn’t be so brutal/ It would be almost easy/ We built castles in the clouds/ We planned a thousand futures out/ Now your packing up and leaving”. Still this performance was so gentle and it left me in a daze. “So we’ve had a pretty crazy year. And this is our final gig of the year. This time last year we had no producer for the album. We actually wrote Material for the first time with Martin Terefe who went on to become our producer” Catherine then mentioned. Both Lizzy and Catherine then humbly thanked the audience for supporting them on their journey this year. Cartwheels was the song which followed and this being ever so beautiful. This was a chilled out cut which sent shivers up my spine and the dreamy lyrics left me in a trance “I’ve been doing cartwheels/ Anything to save us/ Anything to make you notice me”. Following on was he breathtaking Proof. This stripped back tender tune was so spellbinding. Catherine and Lizzy’s fluffy vocals were rather sweet leaving me captivated at the same time. The curtain closed on the first single from the album Cartwheels and this being the majestic Carry You Home. Now I fell for this charming number hook, line and sinker. Carry You Home was an uplifting tune about friendship and being there for that person when something goes wrong “When it all comes caving in/ And you can’t be brave again/ Whenever you need a friend, need a friend call me”. Catherine and Lizzy’s vocals were so succulent, they both delivered this lovely song to perfection.
They then both left the stage only to return moments later for 3 more tunes. The encore opened up with Jess Glynne’s Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself. Now the Ward Thomas take was ever so sparkly, fresh and funky at the same time. Everything about this was top notch, the harmonies were pure perfection and plenty of joyful vibes oozed from it. Now the final two numbers were Christmas themed. “We’re going to attempt to do Joni Mitchell’s song River justice” Catherine mentioned before they got stuck into River. Catherine had nothing to worry about as they flawlessly delivered this wondrous number. The vocals were pitch perfect and those tasty lyrics put me in a trance. The evening then came to a close with the superb Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. This smokey take on this well known number was both upbeat and unique. Actually it was rather jolly and filled me with plenty of Christmas cheer.
Good On You
Where The Sky Is
Dirt And Gold
Carry You Home
Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
OVERALL: This was a right spectacle, Ward Thomas were amazing as always and the set was literally superb. It was so nice to witness stripped down songs from the 2nd album. Actually Cartwheels is one of my favourite albums of 2016 because it’s jammed packed with extraordinary numbers. As for the choice of single, Boomerang is a formidable force to be reckoned with and it easily has you tapping your toe.
Then you had the encore, the Jess Glynne cover was fun filled and it was so refreshing to witness someone else putting their own spin on it. I would go as far to say that the Ward Thomas version was better than the original. Having Christmas songs for the encore was something rather magical and predictable at the same time. Catherine and Lizzy definitely did River justice and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas had me looking forward to Christmas even more.