Wednesday, 29 September 2010


Fiona Bevan w/Mark Coldham |||| The Workshop @ Roadtrip, Hoxton |||| Tuesday September 28th, 2010
A beautifully tucked-away basement near Old Street station played host to two great solo musical talents last night. First up, Mark Coldham. He's a Canadian-born songwriter who completely throws off most preconceptions formed when seeing a guy in jeans pick up an acoustic guitar beneath some fairy lights. From the opening resonating chords of Radiohead's "Airbag" it's pretty clear that he's not just gonna play us his own love songs all night. This guy's got balls: I can't think of too many hilariously self-deprecating lyricists who would open with that number, but it gets the audience on his side right away.

Only when he launches into one of his own compositions do we truly see his unexpected technique and fervour flourish. His fingers move with ridiculous speed, tapping out syncopated rhythms on the guitar body in tandem with almost frantic finger-picking. This guy's good too. And his self-analytical lyrics about songwriting, best summarised by "The Song Song" are a brilliant example of intelligence in word choice and word play. If you like your solo artists quirky without being try-hards, you'll enjoy Mark Coldham. Email him via his MySpace to pester him for gig details and chances are you won't be disappointed.

Last of the night, Fiona Bevan takes to the stage. This woman is such a talented vocalist, that it's starting to make this post sound less like new things to like and more new things to embarrassingly gush about. Her debut album Plant Your Heart was on constant rotation on my iPod for weeks, and with good reason.

Experiencing it live is even more of a treat. These are songs over which her round vibratto chirps, driven by ukelele-like guitar. Her voice rings out with a sweetness that almost hides the heart-shattering nature of her love songs and hurt songs. With such lyrical honesty she side-steps the eye-roll inducing domain of yet another heartbreak song, made meaningless and grating. Instead, I find myself believing every word.

She performs with real joy, which is always inspiring to see. Check out her site HERE for information on her forthcoming EP release, as and when it happens. And have a listen on Spotify for a taste of her bittersweet and charming pop songwriting.

images courtesy of me

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