Live Review – Meadowlark @ The Cuban Embassy
The Cuban Embassy
Review by SdM
Meadowlark finished the UK leg of their current tour Saturday Night at The Cuban Embassy. Kate and Daniel looked remarkably casual and relaxed as the duo set up their instruments on the small stage in the space vacated by the support act. With a nod to the sound tech it was all set to go. “Hello, Birmingham, how are we all?” Singer and keyboardist Kate spoke like she was talking to old friends, “We’re going to start with an acoustic version of ‘Eye’s Wide’”.
Meadowlark pour their soul into a unique sound of 4 A.M melancholy and moody desolation – they give a voice to the struggle that is the human condition: relationships, loss, life’s changes, self-doubt. Anyone cursed with an ounce of sensitivity can find some reflection in Meadowlark’s music and find the beauty within, as well as a common ally.
Kate & Daniel have augmented their live sound with an acoustic drummer. The drums did however, on occasion, threaten to overpower the delicate sound of Meadowlark, but for more upbeat songs it gave a touch more rhythmic weight and drive. Second song of the set, ‘H.I.T.H’ garnered a deeper sense of accusatory defiance and steely determination. The third, a “brand new one”, bounced along with a positively danceable vibe.
Kate introduces ‘Embody’ explaining she has cried every time she has sang it on this tour. Completely and thoroughly understandable as the song is about losing her mother. Kate ends the song without tears and gives herself a little chipper “yes!” Anyone who has lost a parent can understand this small milestone in the healing process. “What an amazing woman she was,” adds Daniel.
Crowd pleasers and favourites from the first EP’s and album ‘Postcards’ provided much in the way of audience participation. The throng of devotees sang along and swayed to ‘Pink Heart’, ‘May I Have This Dance’ and ‘Headlights’ . The sumptuousness of ‘Postcards’ never fails: the soft wistful reverie recalls a love now long departed. All but the most cynical of hearts could not be moved by this song.
During ‘Fly’ the front row held up printed pages that were given out beforehand by an adoring fan. On the back it read, “Please hold this up when Meadowlark sing “Fly”[smiley face]”. On the front, in block capitals, “WE WILL ALWAYS FLY WITH YOU”. The word ‘always’ was in bold. Kate looked suitably touched, “Thank you so much. That might’ve been the best moment of my life so far”.
An intimate gig with Meadowlark is somewhat like a therapy session. But far from being a mawkish cry-fest it is more like trying to find a way through life by acknowledging the darkness and shining upon it the light of reason and acceptance. And when thought-of like that, no one can do brightness-before-the-dawn quite like meadowlark at their finest.
Support act tonight was Gaby Kettle. “Yes”, she says, “like the kitchen appliance, kettle”. Singer Gaby was accompanied by keyboardist James, who had learned all the songs in just two hours. Impressive, I’m sure you’ll agree, particularly as all the songs contained rather complicated sounding jazz-chords. Gaby adds her own jazz complexity with her dynamic but nonetheless soothing and charming vocal.
Gaby did not appear to suffer from stage-fright or nerves. The forgetting the lyrics to one of her own tunes did perhaps give an idea that the sense of occasion had, momentarily, overtaken her. A cover was sung in its place instead. The cover-version over, Gaby’s memory returned and the song played at last and the set not cut short.
A surprising show of yet more talent from Brum. If you like a your music with with jazz hued tones checkout Gaby Kettle on SoundCloud and other social media. More music, she assures, will be uploaded soon.