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Angel Snow and Ben Glover
No CDs to sell at the Merch Desk at the start of a live gig indicates either bad planning or a very popular tour. Angel Snow had sold out by the time she and Ben got to Saltaire, it wasn't down to lack of planning. Only a few of her EPs were available and they went very quickly. Angel taking orders and offering to personally post out CDs to those disappointed fans wanting a CD.
A good size crowd for Angel and Ben. Both artists are Nashville based although Ben's accent gives away his Co. Antrim roots. Both are already well respected songwriters. Angel had three songs recorded by Alison Krauss and Union Station on their PAPER AIRPLANE CD. Ben shares song writing credits with, amongst others, Mary Gauthier and Gretchen Peters.
It was a shared dual headline bill. The opening set saw Ben and Angel on stage together but performing songs alternately. Accompanying each other on the occasional vocal harmony but generally introducing and playing their own songs. Both have distinctive styles. Angel was relatively new to me. I had heard her songs played on radio and in particular a Bob Harris session last year and also the televised House Party at Beth Nielson Chapman's House. I'd previously seen Ben supporting Mary Gauthier last year.
Angel opened the proceedings with a fine performance of Coals and Water from the CD ANGEL SNOW. Subtle guitar style and a very pure, piercing voice with a wide range and to me also reminiscent at times of Beth Orton. Ben then followed with Too Long Gone, a song co-written with Mary Gauthier from his latest CD ATLANTIC . Ben's voice reminds me of a combination of John Smith and David Gray with heady overtones of early Ryan Adams. Their guitar styles nicely contrasted. Ben being far louder and more powerful, Angel having a quieter, more subtle approach. A second song from Angel then Ben followed with another Mary Gauthier co write Oh Soul, a song based on Robert Johnson, with Angel adding very pleasant and delicate harmony. Angel again with Lie Awake, a powerful vocal, quite different than Alison Krause's cover version on PAPER AIRPLANE although Alison's voice can soar to places most mere mortals can only dream of. This format continued for the rest of the set with both artists commenting (favourably) on each other's songs. Both artists relaxed and assured enough to be quite humorous in their between song introductions and banter, even talking about a run in with a waitress earlier in the evening. Ben has some beautiful lyrical touches, a great example being performed in the first set in The Ballad of Carla Boone, "She blew in like a thunderstorm with a heart", a weather reference worthy of John Hiatt's "She came onto him like a slow movin' cold front, His beer was warmer than the look in her eyes". The set concluded with a new song Sweetheart from Ben's forthcoming new CD. This was an upbeat gospel style song very ably assisted by Angel's vocals. Ben getting the very attentive and polite Saltaire crowd to join in with the chorus. I should say that for artists with great lyrics the Live Room is generally a delight with crowds being respectful, quiet and attentive. This may possibly be a little too quiet and therefore unnerving for some of our American visitors. They are generally used to lots of yells throughout the songs or following any instrumental break of more than a few notes but superb if you enjoy listening when you go out for the night.
The second set saw Ben solo for two songs. His opening song Whatever Happens Will is no doubt his most lucrative song to date, having been used by a well known international thirst quenching soft drink company for an ad campaign in South America. A chilling murder ballad, Blackbirds co-written with Gretchen Peters followed. Lyrics like "I left you lying there like rotting fruit upon the ground" gives an indication of the songs mood. Angel then replaced Ben on stage singing two songs starting with a song based on her Father called Disguises, this was followed by I Need You from her EP. Both songs being pretty low key and following the murder ballad very well. I Need You drew a Leonard Cohen comparison from Ben for the line "I need you like raw knuckles in winter", great praise indeed. Ben then joined Angel on stage and they continued alternating songs like the first set. A rousing Sing a Song Boys from Ben changed the mood following the opening songs. The remainder of the set consisted of songs from ATLANTIC, ANGEL SNOW and SECRET. A delightful duo rendition of Dylan's You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go finished the set. Of course they were called back and performed a cover of U2's All I Want Is You and very good it was too. With the harmonies on display during the song and the encore one wished there had been a couple more full collaborations but that might be termed being greedy.
A superb night, great atmosphere, lovely attentive and respectful crowd and excellent sound. The Live Room goes from strength to strength.