Tag Archives: Speckulation

Speckulation Acoustic Sessions: Michael Bruce

20 Jun

After the release of his acclaimed debut album Unwritten Songs earlier this year, Michael Bruce gathered together some established (West End) performers as well as newcomers to perform his songs as part of the Speckulation Acoustic Sessions at The Pheasantry.

Michael Bruce is one of the most talented and versatile contemporary composers and I’ve listened to his album more times than I’d ever admit publicly. It’s a perfect mix of ballads and  uptempo songs with clever lyrics, and they’re all extremely catchy. Therefore I was very much looking forward to this evening and I was not disappointed.

Michael was joined by Tori Allen-Martin, Paul Spicer, Amelia Adams Pearce, Phoebe Fildes, Ben Alyn Francis, Helena Blackman, Dale Page, Sam Edwards and Stef Booth.

The first song, My Kind of World, was sung by Tori Allen-Martin. Stunning voice and a great start to the evening!

Next up was Even Then, sung by Paul Spicer. It’s one of my favourite songs on the album, it’s so beautiful. Paul’s got a great voice and it was wonderful hearing him sing it live.

The next song, I Want A Man, shows how versatile a composer Michael Bruce is and that he can’t really be placed in one genre. Amelia Adams Pearce and Tori Allen Martin did a great job with this upbeat and witty song.

Looking Back is another favourite song of mine, ever since I’ve heard it at the Apollo concert two years ago. Phoebe Fildes has got a stunning voice and it blended so well with Ben Alyn Francis’.

Helena Blackman’s It’s Not Gonna Rain was, in one word,  incredible. Beautiful song and beautifully performed!

Phoebe Fildes came back on stage for the next song, Someplace Beyond the Moon. She’s got such a lovely tone to her voice and I think I actually prefer her version to the one on the album.

The last song of the first half was Money, Honey sung by Dale Page with Tori Allen-Martin, Phoebe Fildes, Paul Spicer and Michael Bruce. It’s a more jazzy song and Dale Page did a great job. It’s the only song I often skip when listening to the album, but I really liked it yesterday.

The second half started with Don’t Wanna Leave You Now, which was sung by the man himself. It’s a very catchy song and I loved the acoustic version of it.

After a rather dramatic stage entrance, Amelia Adams Pearce sang What Do You Do?. Written for a charity auction, this song had never been performed before, which is a shame, because it’s hauntingly beautiful.

Next up was Sam Edwards with Away. He’s another new talent and had sung the song at Michael Bruce’s album launch earlier this year. It’s a stunning song and Sam Edwards was wonderful, very strong voice.

Christmas songs in June? Why not 😉 First up was Stef Booth singing Children. It’s the song Michael Bruce won the Notes For The Stage competition with in 2007 and it’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. Stef Booth has a wonderful voice, too.

Then Helena Blackman sang the rather cheeky This Christmas. Very funny song and witty lyrics.

Unwritten Song was sung by Paul Spicer. It’s my absolutely favourite song on the album, mainly because it’s the only one I could instantly relate to when I listened to it for the first time. Beautiful, moving lyrics and Paul Spicer almost moved me to tears with his interpretation.

The last song of the evening, The Musical Theatre Song, was sung by Michael Bruce again. It’s a hilarious song and was the perfect ending to a wonderful evening.

While the evening felt a bit short, I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Michael Bruce is definitely one to watch out for, and, after having already seen The Great British Country Fete last summer, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for seeing another full musical by him in the not too distant future.

You can buy Michael Bruce’s debut album Unwritten Song at Dress Circle or download it on iTunes.

Speckulation Acoustic Sessions: Julie Atherton

6 Jun

To celebrate the first anniversary of the release of her second album – No Space For Air – Julie Atherton gave two concerts at The Pheasantry this weekend and I was lucky enough to attend one of them.

No Space For Air is one of my favourite albums, Julie’s voice is simply stunning (not only her voice though!), so I knew I had to go and I’m so glad I did.

She was joined by David Randall (piano) and Dougal Irvine (guitar).

She opened the concert with  the first song on her album, Weak. It’s a beautiful song and hearing Julie singing it live was great.

She then sang a song by Michael Bruce, Blind.. I really liked the different arrangement of it.

Next was Lost In Translations. I usually skip that song when I listen to her album, I don’t even know why, because I loved it this time.

Her Morning After was hilarious. I’d heard her singing it at one of her cabarets at the Trafalgar Studios before, but it just never gets old.

I love her version of Sondheim’s Losing My Mind, but then I don’t worship at the Church of Sondheim ;-).

Up next were two of my all time favourite songs. The first one, Cannonball, is not on her album unfortunately, and the second one is Never Saw Blue Like That. She was joined by Dougal Irvine for the latter one.

The last song of the first half was Anywhere But Here by Lance Horne. I love the lyrics of that song, it’s beautiful.

The first song of the second half was A Girl of Few Words from her first album. I hadn’t listened to it for a while, so it was a nice reminder of how good it is.

Next up was her version of the Linkin Park song Crawling. I really like Linkin Park and when I first heard her sing this song, I wasn’t sure if I actually liked it, but after listening to it a couple of times I started to love it. Now I actually think that Julie gets the lyrics across better than the original. Loved it!

The next song, Baby Baby,  was written by Dougal Irvine. I had heard Verity Rushworth sing it before and thought then that Julie would be amazing singing that song, so it was a nice surprise, and she didn’t disappoint. It’s hilarious and I hope I’ll get to see the whole musical at some point!

Next was Silent Whispers  (again, beautiful), followed by Leather.

The last song of the evening was Someone To Fall Back On by Jason Robert Brown. It’s not on her album, but I’d heard her singing it earlier this year and hoped she’d sing it again.

As encore we got Michael Bruce’s Portrait of a Princess. It’s on his album Unwritten Songs that was released this year. I don’t think I need to say anything about it…

 

 

All in all, it was an amazing evening and I couldn’t have spent it any better. Julie just proved again how stupidly talented she is!

She’s doing another concert on 26th June at the Apollo Theatre. I unfortunately can’t go, but if you’re free on that night, you should go! Tickets can be booked here.

You can also catch Julie in the UK Tour of Sister Act, playing Sister Mary Robert!