Venue: The Hop, Sheffield
Bands: The Broken Saints supported by Jamie Heawood and Lauren Faith
Date: 7th August 2013
For those early birds eager to secure a decent place I had the pleasure of seeing the atmosphere build with anticipation and excitement at the The Hop, for what promised to be an excellent evening’s entertainment in the presence of three of Sheffield’s most amiable and genuinely likeable fellows; The Broken Saints.
The three gentlemen in question, Ryan Wilson (guitar and lead vocals), Steven Kay (keyboards) and John Slater (guitar and backing vocals), were a buzzing around the venue trying to find a balance between over-excitement and nervousness, taking the time to welcome every single person to their event. It’s these personal touches that make them so engaging. This was their evening and they were going to thoroughly enjoy it.
The Hop, the venue selected for its intimacy was the perfect setting for the launch of what is surely the first of several releases. The impromptu gig and front room feel even led our compere for the night, CK Goldiing to spontaneously begin a collection for opening act Jamie Heawood, so that he could buy a second guitar.
Jamie had been selected by our hosts and it was a justified decision as his modest and relaxed stage presence allowed his talent to shine and capture the audience with an acoustic set infused with mellow American folk, akin to Joshua Radin or Death Cab for Cutie. His original compositions more than held their own amongst his own versions of songs by Amy Winehouse You Know I’m No Good and Paulo Nutini New Shoes. Jamie is definitely one to keep an eye out for around South Yorkshire.
CK Goldiing, the Sheffield-based writer and radio DJ led us through proceedings in his typically engaging style as we moved from one emerging talent to the next in the form of London-based, Lauren Faith and her band.
Lauren brought a laid-back soul vibe to the evening with compositions clearly influenced by the legendary Erykah Badu. The
musicianship and tightness of her band was clearly evident and in the moments when Lauren was able to rise above them her voice showed a quality and maturity which dripped smooth sensuality, perfectly suiting her original compositions and cover versions alike.
With CK’s gushing comments about the talents of our support acts we arrive at the reason that everyone is here tonight, The Broken Saints.
To little fanfare they took the stage and quickly burst into Nobody Else; a confident opener, which featured the trio as a full band with the inclusion of the talents of drummer David Fong and fiddle player Christina Lloyd who added a greater dimension to the music. The opener helped to settle the pre-performance nerves and the warm reception it received allowed the band to relax into the second track Shouting in Silence, which with the mandolin, melodica and egg-shaker, lent an REM Out of Time era feel to the song.
The choice of tracks from the album they were launching was a varied and showed the range. The beautiful Dreams Never Die was a gentle reminder of their quality as trio, the synchronized guitars with Steven’s delightful piano melody flowing at its heart. The breezy and vibrant Searching for the Shore, driven on by John’s adept guitar playing and probably the track where Ryan’s vocals bear more than a passing resemblance to James Dean Bradfield and the heartfelt and regretful tale of a relationship on the verge of ending which is Open Your Eyes (Take The Time). Ryan was joined for this by the powerful vocals of Katy McLaughlin who held her side with enough defiance to leave Ryan realizing he can’t have it all his own way in the relationship. Katy stayed to take the lead on one of the several accomplished covers sprinkled through the set, The Ballad of Peter Pumpkin Head, the popular Songs of Love and the impassioned, funeral organ driven The Needle and the Damage Done. With Katy leading, the quintet was let off the leash and able to run with the music and clearly enjoyed the chance. The joy and playfulness which accompanied the flight through this song took the set up a level as we joined the band onwards to the finale, and what a finale the assembled crowd was treated to.
Having established the quality and security of how The Broken Saints handle cover versions the announcement of Street Spirit (Fade Out) as the next song there was a rush of excited anticipation there was no doubt the audience were in for a treat. From the moment John’s opening notes floated amongst the silent audience it was completely safe in their hands.
Having previously heard the version which the band had performed at the Tramlines a few weeks prior, it surpassed that by a long way thanks largely to Christina and David’s contribution on fiddle and drums. Ryan’s impassioned vocal delivery and the fiddle added a new dimension to the song, which elevated it to majestic and spine-tingling climax.
They clearly invested a huge amount of dedication and time into ensuring this was a memorable event for all as the carefully crafted set list had the maximum impact as no sooner had they finished this gem than they unleashed a new song on us to close the evening. A song so new that the lyrics were strategically placed around the stage but one which was incredibly well-received, much to the surprise of Ryan. He later confessed, with excitement “we have four more like that”.
This fitting finale to the evening was called Shallow Grave and signals an exciting creative shift into new musical territory for the band. The driving mandolin and fiddle gave it an Americana feel, which sent many a drink wobbling off the table as a result of foot-stomping. With the audience exhausted and exhilarated, The Broken Saints and friends returned for their well-deserved encore, My Hair is Trying To Kill Me, a slice of rockabilly in which the crowd and band were able to happy to wallow in sheer enjoyment.
This album launch establishes The Broken Saints’ reputation (grown through appearances at various venues and festivals like Tramlines, the Y Not Festival and in the prestigious Yorkshire Unplugged 2013 as one of THE bands to see South Yorkshire and Derbyshire and rightly so, because when Ryan, Steven and John take the stage you know they are going to enjoy themselves and in turn so does the audience.
– Danny Stockdale