A Day And A Night With: Bryde – The Cluny, Newcastle / Omeara, London

Today, we bring you the third installment of our ‘A Day And A Night With…’ feature, where we spend some quality time with one of our favourite bands or artists – before, during and/or after a live show. This time, we were lucky enough to do so on not one, but two occasions!

Bryde is the title adopted by Pembrokeshire-born, London-based Sarah Howells; a member of the wonderful Welsh-duo Paper Aeroplanes (who have headlined TFFT Live in previous years), and now an extraordinary solo artist who recently released her debut record Like An Island, receiving a 4* review from Thank Folk For That

Take a read of our review of the two gigs, followed by a collection of snaps from the day and night, taken by our wonderful photographer Victoria Ling…

Bryde released her debut album, Like An Island, on a day some would consider unlucky, but Friday 13th of April 2018 was certainly a good one for Sarah Howells, as her album has received nothing but high critical-acclaim ever since. To support the release, she, along with bassist (and synths) Jay Chakravorty and drummer John Harris, took the album on the road. The tour started in Ireland and she is currently over in mainland Europe at time of writing. I was lucky enough to catch her at Newcastle’s The Cluny as well as at the ‘album launch’ show and last UK date, at London’s Omeara.

There was quite a contrast between the Newcastle and London shows. In Newcastle there was a ‘festival’ in the neighbouring venue and and as the show went on, the numbers kept growing. In London however, the place was heaving for Bryde’s headline slot, and it was a struggle to find a spot! It was one of the hottest tickets in town on May 1st, yet I was lucky enough to hang out a little with Bryde before and after the show. There was a buzz of excitement mixed with a lot of calm. A pre-drink session for friends ensued and they all mingled merrily, as Bryde herself made a quick appearance but strictly stayed on the water…until after the show, to celebrate the end of the UK leg.

I have been lucky enough to see Bryde quite a few times live, since the release of EP2. However, I have to put my hands up and admit that I still haven’t delved into the back catalogue of the Paper Aeroplanes’ version of Howells, unlike many readers of TFFT. Nonetheless, with material so strong in this outfit I am simply hooked on the Bryde version and don’t quite feel the need to dip into that chapter, just yet!

Wherever you catch Howells, she makes you feel welcome and simply at ease to be able to chat with her. Then you catch her on stage and she just has you in awe. Both Newcastle and London had the ‘hushed silences’ in between numbers but this was simply because of the admiration the audience had for her when she was on the stage. Her angsty songs as well as her painstaking numbers can leave the crowd in a trance. She broke this up by telling stories of certain towns and being on tour and had the audience laughing cheerily throughout.

Another notable thing with Howells is that she doesn’t ‘play to a script.’ I have been to a few shows of the same artists and the interaction is often repetitive throughout – however at a Bryde show, everything seems free flowing and unpretentious. This definitely reflected in the latter of the shows when something unexpected came. There was definitely something magical happening at this London date though. I’ve just counted, this date was my eighth time seeing Bryde live and it was my first time witnessing a sing-along, which came with the stunning Help Yourself. There were also near tearful moments with Steady Heart within the first part of the night and then Transparent later on.

What you notice about Sarah Howells is that she is a very humble and approachable person. She makes sure that anyone who has crossed her path to work with her is knowingly appreciated and the same goes for those that come to her shows and buy her music – they are given the biggest and warmest of thanks. At both Newcastle and London, and I am sure during the shows in between and on the remaining European tour dates, Howells has been at the merch table and does not leave until the last fan has left.

As Bryde, it has been a few years in the making to get to the first album out there, but with each show she is growing and so is her audience. She has every emotion tapped on both record and at live shows, and from what I have witnessed since that first performance I attended in November 2016, to this show on May 1st 2018, I know that this is only the beginning and that there are bigger and better things to come for Bryde. Just keep watching this space!

Words & Images by Victoria Ling