The chandeliers brightened, illuminating the green and gold embossed walls as the Limelight Orchestra began their introduction. Maybe not the typical place you would find Nottingham’s artists; the idea of a sit down formal evening in such a beautiful venue would be quite daunting. However, this was the perfect opportunity to invite your mum along to a gig knowing she’s not going to be squished against a barrier, being asked by a sweaty guy for a leg up to crowd surf.
The orchestra first accompanied Georgie Rose. She nervously tuned her guitar, seeming a little taken aback by the silent crowd. Any signs of shyness were washed away when Georgie began to strum the intro to ‘Calmer.’ Her voice alone is uniquely raw. It dropped into the theatre like watercolour falling into liquid, undulating the atmosphere. The violins, soft flutes and her own harmonica talents helped paint a beautiful, warmer sound.
We were later treated to her haunting voice in a more understated song. Georgie confessed to me that it was the first time she had ever played ‘Love Me Again’, her flawless piano ballad. This could explain why it did not sound over-performed, it was beautifully natural. Georgie’s emotive lyrics had a knack of making every song sound like she was spontaneously spilling her hurt into the theatre, which prompted the lady next to me to share her Kleenex around. Georgie successfully made the whole front row smudge their mascara before ending by humbly thanking the sniffling and clapping audience, calling the night ‘one of those lifetime moments.’
It would be easy to suggest that a band of just nine months that have made the stir Amber have is slightly undeserved. Their Nottingham Rocks performance would say differently.
In between lectures at the University of Nottingham, the boys have banked a whole lot of practice time. This couldn’t have been clearer as their harmonies were alluring, their guitars swirled and the drumming was tight. And instead of countless rounds of Ring of Fire, expected of 20 year olds, the band have been busy organising tour dates and recording future songs to flood our radios. Amber opened on their not-so-predictable upcoming single ‘Heaven.’ Although it doesn’t have the structure of a sing-along radio ballad, it is beautiful and really flaunts the band’s versatility. It is a completely different sound from their first EP, Noah, which rocketed to 19th in the iTunes Alternative charts, nestling between the likes of Coldplay and the Arctic Monkeys – not too shabby.
Thanking the audience on numerous accounts the band ended on their latest single, a favourite of Radio 1’s, ‘Noah.’ A fitting climax, the majestic, uplifting chorus proved itself to be fit for an expansive stadium or an opera house. The orchestra were a exceptional, a far grander substitute for their usual glockenspiel. True to being Nottingham students, they hit the town afterwards for jagerbombs and dance moves that were a little less promising than their future careers.
Harleighblu stepped on to the stage in a sultry floor-length dress. Her peroxide hair bounced as she giggled into the microphone how excited she was to play here. The orchestra seemed to bloom with her enthusiasm. Their pace quickened, the strings were plucked and the brass instruments complimented the seductive voice of Harleighblu.
We were treated to a few jazz and hip hop singles from her new and first album Forget Me Not. Her single ‘Play Me’ seemed a favourite of the crowd after its recent Youtube success. Harleighblu was accompanied by an effortlessly cool team. The bass player stalked the stage in sunglasses, the pianist donned a velvet suit and, not many bands could boast having bongo drums, maracas and now, a 14 piece orchestra. The energy on the overcrowded stage was crazy, every person had a purpose contributing to beautiful soulful sounds. But the carnival of different instruments couldn’t take the limelight away from Harleighblu. That lady is a self-established performer.
My first ever review was about the headline act, Saint Raymond. I remember him playing to a small, chattering crowd in a local bar and being impressed when Callum announced his age. At 17, he was playing in Nottingham’s coolest bars without being able to drink in them. A year later, nobody couldn’t comment on his inexperience. He has supported Gabrielle Alpin around Europe, released his debut EP and just announced his own headline tour dates.
Callum’s stage presence has certainly bloomed and the technical problems he faced didn’t seem to daunt him. He appeared totally cool, only appearing off guard when performing ‘This Town.’ His relaxed exterior transformed, he was playing to Nottingham’s locals about their town. Callum seemed as honoured as the crowd, declaring this as the highlight of any gig, ever.