The Troubadour is noticeably friendly, where a lot of other London venues feel hostile and impenetrable. The ground floor restaurant is littered with trinkets and relics, left behind by previous clientele or famous bands that played there, decades before. It’s reputedly a good one for celeb-spotting, although the best I ever managed was Neil Fox – that’s Dr. Fox to you – which isn’t great, to be honest. Once you’ve navigated past all of the vintage teapots and banjos hanging from the ceiling and headed downstairs, you’ll find the wee music room. It’s a dark, fairy-light-covered basement filled with little tables with plastic roses on them, all facing a corner stage. It’s understated and the sound quality is always excellent.
Caggie from Made In Chelsea sang here on one of the episodes from the first series. I’d say that was one of The Troubadour’s lower points in life, mainly because it didn’t represent what the venue is about at all. In essence, a gang of millionaire Chelsea-ites don’t actually congregate there, talking about how twee the place is, pronouncing ‘gig’, ‘gaaag?’ In reality, it’s a committed champion of talented, often unsigned acts, performing original music from an impressively wide range of genres, i.e. not Goo Goo Dolls covers.
I went last night to hear 23 year-old London-based singer-songwriter Jamie Martyr, doing a half-hour set of original songs. She is currently impressively far into the ‘Live & Unsigned’ competition, having recently flown through the Regional Finals. She mentioned this fact fleetingly and self-deprecatingly at the beginning of her set, but you can understand why she has been consistently impressing the judges when she starts properly singing. I say ‘properly singing’ because, although her lower, quieter voice is perfectly pleasant, it is at the intense, climactic moments of her songs that her vocal range and accuracy is fully displayed. In Neverland, the repeated chorus showcases the intricacy of the melody, and her ability to move swiftly and seamlessly between a delicate, intimate acoustic number and a soulful, expansive power ballad.
Her lyrics are engaging, but verge occasionally on feeling tired, and lack the creative story-telling interest which would complement her music so well. At 23, though, this will inevitably develop with continued writing, performing and collaboration. With ‘Live & Unsigned’ looking promising, Martyr’s future is bright and we should keep an eye out for what she does next. Her recently released EP All That Glitters is available to listen here.