Bare in mind that not many people ever turn up for the support acts, local lass and first support for the evening Rhona Dalling took to the stage to a good handful of people, giving an engaging performance especially when it came to Rhona’s Waltz, when a lot of foot tapping came as she swapped the banjo for the fiddle.
A few more bodies came flowing into the room as Michele’s band member, Raevennan Husbandes, took to the stage for a solo set. Raevennan shares many stories of her connections with the Newcastle area and we were given a song that she sang with The Unthanks half way through the set. She also tells us that the last time she was here, she played with her other band The Moulettes, choosing to play one of their songs next on her acoustic guitar, rather than with a cello that normally accompanies it. We were a very silent crowd on this night and Raevennan had the knack to fill in those quiet gaps with laughs about her hair and the 7-seater they are doing their tour in. Raevennan is someone you could listen to all day in song and stories.
Michele Stodart then came to the stage and we were definitely in for a special night. Displaying the evening’s relaxed feeling, Michele quietly wandered onto the stage as the audience was still in full conversation with each other. We quickly notice her presence though and she joked with us that she was quietly sneaking in to check her sound. After a few minutes we were ready to start the show and with a very silent number, slowly building up the sound while introducing the band with the second and third number in the set.
We were offered a mix of folky numbers to bluesy-rock where she completely ‘jammed out’ on her guitar by herself, as well as engaging with the band members. One thing is to be taken by her performance but another is watching how she worked the small space she had. Being mainly behind the mic, Michele somehow still managed to ‘work that stage!’
Michele Stodart is a very engaging performer, as her vocals make you feel at ease and draw you in. The gig felt like I was on a night out with friends and there is that one talented singer that brings out the guitar and you watch them as you drink. There was actually a lot of talk of her friends in the region that she has toured with, as she sang Ain’t No Woman. She even pointed to one member of the audience, Northern songstress Kathryn Williams, and dedicated the song as one for ‘the bad ass girls out there.’
We were then given the last song of the evening –nudge nudge wink wink – with Will You Wait For Me but Stodart then decided against doing the whole encore thing and invited Kathryn Williams on stage ‘to do some talking’ as she runs to get some more wine! In this time we were also introduced to Nev Clay who took the lead on the Ivor Cutler song, Women Of The World, with both Michele and Kathryn lending to backing vocals. It was a very special moment in the night and led to the last songs of the evening, which we were told if we give out our emails, we would get two very special downloads given to only those that attended this tour. Special I say as these downloads are what cemented the relationship between Michele and Raevennan, who met on a songwriting retreat organised by Kathryn Williams!
Although the numbers were low on this night, I think all who attended were all part of a very special intimate evening in celebration of Michele’s album Pieces, and I am so happy I got to be a part of it.
Words & image from Victoria Ling