Adam Holmes & The Embers continue to follow up the success of last year’s debut album, Heirs & Graces, with live dates up and down the country. On Friday night it was the chance for a Glasgow audience to enjoy the band, thanks to The Fallen Angels Club at the thriving Centre for Contemporary Arts; with up and coming solo performer Genesee providing the opening set.
Singer/songwriter Genesee came to Scotland from Kenya at a young age and has nurtured her musical and poetic talent in the Dumfriesshire countryside. Taking to the stage she immediately impressed with an a capella rendition of Trouble Of The World, as performed in the 1950’s by the renowned gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson. For any singer to provide such an accomplished performance is impressive – but to take to the stage and open a supporting set, while the room continues to fill, must take nerves of steel. Having succeeded in gaining the attention, and respect, of her audience, Genesee went on to deliver a 20 minute set that softly and quietly sizzled; performing her own soulful and poetic compositions with a rich velvety voice and an enchantingly delicate fingerstyle guitar. If ever anyone should need to cast a young Ella Fitzgerald, her supremely sedate cover of Melody Gardot’s Baby I’m a Fool should be all they need to hear; and her confident re-working of Bronski Beat’s Small Town Boy closed the set on a note that should assure everyone Genesee is going places.
Rythmn in the Madness
Trouble of the World
Adam Holmes should be familiar to FRUK regulars, the debut Heirs & Graces was exceptionally well received last year and the band recently recorded an exclusive FRUK session. I also have a hunch that the full house at the CCA were, on the whole, equally familiar with his music.
Holmes himself is confirmation that a live act doesn’t necessarily have to get the audience on their feet in a toe tapping frenzy to deliver a memorable performance. If there’s anything more laid back than his music, it’s his stage presence. After opening with two familiar tracks from Heirs & Graces (Common Ground and the glorious I Can’t Be Right), Colin Train (keyboards) picked up his accordion to lead the band into a lively new number that successfully, along with Monday Morning, bucks the trend with its upbeat approach and positive outlook. Monday Morning also saw Paul Gilbody add to his already welcome lead guitar with some accomplished backing vocals – with the rhythm section of John Lowrie on drums and Alex Hunter on Bass, the pace is kept brisk and steady for this enjoyable, mellow, crowd pleaser.
Adam’s voice, though, is undoubtedly the star of the show. Smooth, gravelly, melancholy without a doubt, but so full of character it’s little wonder that when combined with his song writing talent, the effect is enthralling. This is best illustrated when Adam takes to the stage alone for a new song, to rapt attention from the audience, or in his solo rendition of Robert Burns’ Ae Fond Kiss – released by the band recently as a charity single. Conversely, Fire In The Sun showcases the sheer quality of musicianship provided by the band as a whole. With rich, colourful organ from Colin Train and Alex Hunter’s intricate bass it’s a highlight of the night. Perhaps the most memorable highlight, though, is the closing number; Nadine. A song of parting and regret laden with atmosphere, especially from Paul Gilbody’s mournful, atmospheric guitar and keening solo. Although a recent song and not included on Heirs & Graces, Nadine’s proving to be a huge hit with live audiences.
And it’s no wonder those live audiences continue to attend the gigs. Adam Holmes and the Embers provide a night out that delivers a captivating vocal performance and absorbing song writing; backed by a band that’s accomplished and assured – a winning combination.
Folk Radio UK Session
Review by: Neil McFadyen