Bristol Lantern shining on Singing Divas Northsyde & Sari Schorr
Colston Hall, returns with the Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival. The venue is awash with music, a chance to catch up with friends and chill in the foyer with an array of free spectacular shows. Tonight The Lantern shone bright as Lorna took the vocal lead for Northsyde and their distinctive blending of blues, funk twisted with the free flow of blues jam tradition weaving in the Allman Brothers and a rocky edge.
Tonight, Lorna was resplendent in Black Top Hat and flowing wig, by the end of the set both were dispatched to the wings and the cropped urchin beauty was revealed adding a vulnerability that is counter intuitive to the strong vocals. With a collection of Northsyde defined numbers the set list played to the combined strengths of the band, Lorna up front with vocals that curl and turning lyrics into an angst-ridden journey through the melody. The grounding of the melodies are defined by the powerhouse of a rhythm section, Hayden Doyle on drums and the distinctive bass lines of Ian Mauricio. Yes, you were right left-handed Ian has the stringing on his bass upside down. Pulling the rhythm together and building complexity is the wizardry of Jules Fothergill’s guitar explosions of licks, and hooks for Lorna’s vocals to build on and exploit using her vocal range from growl to pure soprano. With an outing of Mr Sistabish from the hotly anticipated fourth album due out this Summer, we had funky Cherry Picking, and Mercy – the live track from Storytellers Daughter. Tonight melded into the music adventure Living Colour, Stevie Wonder and with Denny Ilett entering the fold adding another layer of guitar as he played with Jules they were having fun. This made Northsyde’s signature cover Whipping Post rather special for their first trip down the M4 to Bristol. The interplay between Jules and Denny was unforgettable in its majesty. What a start to a night dominated by vocals that soar above the band. Short break, and Sari Schorr and The Engine room filled the Lantern with blues that rock with the dynamic energy and power of charisma being shared across the audience so that everyone is touched by the gentle dignity that is Sari Schorr.
No gentle warm up with Sari and her band, she hit the ground running and the tension power and sheer beauty of live music just kept coming. The set list was dominated by tracks from her critically acclaimed debut album Force Of Nature. The album title perfectly describes Sari’s voice it is a true force of nature. Sari leaps into the vocals shaping and building the lyrics, every song she has a tale that you want to follow. Yes, she has confidence in the lyrics and her vocal prowess, more importantly, is her unwavering confidence and joy with the Engine Room the band that surrounds her. With Innes Sibun on guitar, we are in for a pyrotechnic display, controlled and wild and cool under the pressure of the amp blowing during the first outing of Black Betty tonight. With no guitar on stage, it was Anders Olinder’s keys that seamlessly took over with chords that filled the Lantern. The Engine Room are an organic force that works around the demands of the song and Sari, with a rhythm section that fills out the melodies with textures as the two Kevin’s collaborate, O’Rourke on drums and Jeffries in charge of the bass line.
Sari Schorr opened with Ain’t Got No Money the set continued to build and flow, with a preview of what is to come in the highly anticipated second album we heard Cat & Mouse, a highlight of the set and really whets the appetite for more Sari live and recorded. No subject is taboo for Sari, with Domestic Abuse explored without judgement with emotionally charged Damn The Reason. With Sari, the voice is an emotionally charged instrument combined with theatrical movements of hands and swirling dance steps the tension builds as though you are listening through Sari’s whole being. Heroin and addiction is explored with Aunt Hazel and we visit Oklahoma. Closing with Ordinary Life, Sari in the introduction praises her musicians, record label but above all the audiences that gives her the stage to sing from. Ordinary lives are anything but ordinary, with the melody that is gentler and at times Sari sings A Capella with a vulnerability as we are all special we are all looking to find our true potential. Sari with the Engine Room has definitely found hers we want to hear that voice perform over and over again. The interpretation of every song is special full of energy if languid with pathos and Innes guitar matches the mood wild and reflective he is always entertaining and his solo lead breaks are a feat to behold every time.
The encore, was Black Betty as we should have heard it the first time, with the stupendous Innes Sibun solo written by him and with the darkness of vocal tone Black Betty is reworked and always a Sari spectacular and now her signature number. Tonight we heard high-octane blues of the highest quality and what a voice, what a guitarist to have both in the same band takes blues-rock to a different level.
Bristol Lantern shining on Singing Divas Northsyde & Sari Schorr, once again Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival delivers music that is special.