Ferris & Sylvester
The Cuban Embassy
Review by Mae Simkin
For me, getting the opportunity to check out a venue I have never attended is always exciting and there are not many in Birmingham which I haven’t been to. This meant it was a pleasure to check out the wonderful Cuban Embassy.
The atmosphere was pleasant and bubbly upon arrival, the sold out show attracting a wide audience, some already enjoying the Cuban inspired beverages on offer. I have never seen so many different brands and varieties of rum before! It all was simply wonderful.
Duo Ferris & Sylvester met in London a few years ago and immediately started writing music together. They are made-up of Issy Ferris and Archie Sylvester – a pair who have come up with a both individual and remarkable sound making them standout in this difficult business. I actually attended school with Issy, although she is a few years older than me, but I remember her singing in assembly with her guitar. She sounded brilliant then and it was almost certain that she was destined for the music industry, so when this duo popped up on my social media feed one day I wasn’t at all surprised.
The night started with support from Joseph Hicklin who performs under the name, Death By Stampede. The singer-songwriter based in Birmingham had a way of capturing the crowd’s attention with his passionate yet somewhat haunting work. His alternative country sound is stripped back letting you focus on his brilliant vocals.
He played material from his debut EP, ‘Contemporary Depressive’, which touches on his personal experiences as well as a resounding love.
Between the acts the room started to fill with people enjoying the buzz of a Thursday night gig. The soft lighting and flow of drink definitely adding to that atmosphere.
It wasn’t long before our headliners of the night, Ferris & Sylvester, took to the stage. Last year was awesome for them from all the touring to the release of their EP ‘Made In Streatham’ and this year has started strong. At the end of January they recorded a session at the legendary Maida Vale Studios for BBC Introducing; this was played on BBC Radio 2. This duo is soaring.
Their mood was uplifting. The combination of folk with the blues and a sprinkling of rock n roll is simply inspired. They got people dancing with tracks like ‘London’s Blues’ and hooked with emotional tunes like, ‘Sometimes’.
New track ‘Sickness’ really highlights the vocal prowess of the pair. I would say it could be described as slightly darker than their other material and captures the rawness of human relationships with the help of the sheer guitar line. It is full of frustration yet also love. I have since learned it is actually one of the first songs the pair ever wrote together which is why they wanted to leave it untouched and real.
They are simply very talented, there is not much more to say. The reaction they got in that room was amazing, nothing but positive energy and people having a good time. I’m sure this is just the beginning for Ferris & Sylvester.