Live Review – Hannah Brown @ The Sunflower Lounge
The Sunflower Lounge
Review by Ian Paget
We may have seen rain of biblical proportions today, but the atmosphere in the Sunflower Lounge is warm and welcoming as an evening of local talent helps tonight’s audience forget about the weather for a little while.
Having previously operated as a solo singer-songwriter, headliner Hannah Brown has been playing with her current band for almost a year and they’ve given her self-reflective songs a wonderfully expansive sound, evidenced on set opener ‘Better For This’ to great effect.
Hannah’s honest and emotional vocals build up alongside the music in a powerful way that makes for a highly affecting performance, with ‘So Should You’ a particular high point – perhaps not as “angry-sounding” as originally intended, claims Hannah, but the track still packs a punch.
Tracks such as ‘See It Now’ and ‘Stay’ are a little more fragile-sounding, as Hannah explains her outlook on human vulnerability, but on the flipside there’s always a positive message such as on ‘I Don’t Wanna Be You’, which Hannah explains is about “celebrating being yourself”.
Ironically the most “jolly-sounding” song in the set is the excellent upcoming single ‘Hate Myself’, followed by the upbeat ‘Further Away’ to bring a lighter sounding end to the set, before being convinced to encore with the additional ‘What Have We Done?’ to round things off.
Having rushed back from London to play tonight, Bryony Williams’ solo performance has an attentive audience captivated with songs from her ‘Conscious’ EP, beginning with ‘Scared’. Accompanied with sparse electric guitar, Bryony’s confident vocals fill the room in a way that tonight reminds me of Jeff Buckley’s emotive live performances.
Noting that without her backing band, songs like ‘Whirlpool’ tend to take a more “depressing” sound, she lightens things up by chatting between songs about her experience on a conference panel and the recent Bikini Kill reunion show in London. Newer tracks ‘Silhouette’ and ‘Little Tree’ sound strong, and there’s cause for amusement when she forgets the words to the latter, resorting to the crowd to help her improvise some alternative lyrics on the topic of cheese! Finally the haunting ‘Hypnosis’ ends the set to complete a very enjoyable performance.
Wolverhampton’s Watermark have come dressed appropriately for the weather with half of the band donning coats, but their youthful enthusiasm quickly banishes any thoughts of the rain. The band take their cues from 90s indie and tracks like ‘The Way’ show an Oasis-inspired sound whilst ‘What Did You Expect?’ is an attitude-filled taster of what the band intend to release soon.
As well as their own material there’s a couple of choice covers – The Stone Roses’ ‘Waterfall’ trumped by The Clash’s ‘Tommy Gun’ which works better thanks to the punkish approach suiting the band’s energy levels. Closer ‘Sailing’ is planned as an upcoming single and has a baggy sound that shows plenty of promise.