At any earlier stage of her singing career, Charlotte Church could easily have filled halls the size of the Dome or the Brighton Centre, although she admits tonight she’s barely visited the city before. Right now, as she premieres all new songs from her upcoming album, her presence in the Green Door Store feels entirely natural.
For sure, news of tonight’s gig had met with some incredulity around town, but the mature, down to earth Charlotte Church – working mother, songwriter and festival-goer – clicks with the venue. Very few of the audience appear to be out of their depth either, gamely cheering on support band A New Way To Trust’s blistering hardcore as their vocalist climbs screaming up the walls.
Still, there’s a clear sense of relief in the room (some must have wondered if they’d gone to the wrong gig) when Church and her band finally appear, rolling into the swell of recent download ‘The Rise’. Many of these new songs follow in the melodic vein of Fleet Foxes or Arcade Fire, bright and dynamic but with a tidal undertow, the young men in the band filling out the sound with their harmonies. Church could have downplayed her talents in a bid for boring old rock credibility, but wisely she plays to her own strengths, giving full vent to that astounding singing voice.
She makes further impressive contributions with some startling loop pedal work too, particularly on the Daily Mail baiting ‘Judge From Afar’. Aside from her voice, it’s only this subject matter that gives away the fact that Church isn’t entirely like the rest of us, having grown up in the media glare. The passionately performed ‘Mr The News’, dedicated bitterly to Rupert Murdoch and “written while I was taking part in the Levenson Inquiry” also happens to be the least engaging, most trad-sounding song of the evening.
Church and her band largely nail it tonight though, revealing a singer fulfilled within the group format, the music’s understated grandeur merging beautifully with her soaring voice. She’s honest and funny too, admitting “I don’t do encores because I feel like a twat” before leaving on a high with chiming finale ‘James’. Staking out a space slightly left of the mainstream, this was a definite, deserved triumph.
Green Door Store, Thursday 2nd August 2012
Words by Stuart Huggett
Photos by Mr A the Photographer