Championing emerging lyricists and vocalists from the world of poetry, soul and more with their London live events, Vocals and Verses closed 2012 with The People’s Edition show. Inviting back some of the most popular acts who have performed throughout the year (via an online poll), Great Portland Street’s 229 The Venue was the arena for tomorrow’s potential world beaters to once again perform to a packed crowd. Hosted by comedian Kae Kurd, the night’s lineup of singers and poets was an exceptional mix of underground heroes and potential commercial juggernauts, some of whom provided the brighter musical notes of 2012.
Scandinavian songstress (and Get Familiar alumni) Marie Dahlstrom was the first to perform. The Danish wonder’s delicate, airy tones not only produced excellent live versions of her own material, but also covers of Little Dragon’s “Twice” and Phil Collins’ classic “In The Air Tonight.”
Another Soul Culture approved prospect, G.R.E.ed.S, came to the stage minus his long term collaborative band The Remedies, but still packing enough emotive and hilarious poetic anecdotes of growing up in Nigeria, the relationship with his mother in addition to offering an impromptu performance of the popular John Denver hit “Leaving On A Jet Plane.”
The V&V house band on the night rolled out a fine number of slick performances for the acts on hand. Open Mike’s gripping poem “Nadine,” which told the story of two conflicting lives on the day of the Haiti earthquake, captured the attention of all in attendance due to the exceptional timing of the poet’s recital being in tune with the band’s eloquent instrumental.
When MOBO Award winning Rachel Kerr hit the stage in the second half of the show, Vocals and Verses was indeed taken to church with some impassioned, spiritual performances from Ms Kerr and the band, as the vocally empowered female raised the roof and took charge of the venue.
Arguably the biggest highlight of V&V was the on-stage arrival of the towering, soul enriched singer Jacob Banks, who whipped the female fans into a frenzy. Birmingham’s star in the making didn’t hesitate to draw for the big guns – instantly producing a northern tinged medley of classic covers of Teddy Pendergrass and Marvin Gaye.
Armed only with a guitar, Banks (who was championed by SC’s Versetti in Music Week’s ‘Tastemakers’ section) strummed with confidence, evoking emotion into every line sang. “Coward,” which is set to appear on the 20 year old’s forthcoming EP The Monologue, closed his set as the lingering, hair raising rendition kept the audience at bay who clung onto his every word until its end.
Manchester’s acoustic sensation JP Cooper closed the Vocals and Verses event with a collection of chilling, harmonic songs from his highly sought after EPs, finalising a successful night for the poetry and music showcase.
Whilst running order was a noticeable hindrance at the event, with the mid-show ‘open mic’ competition shortening some of the billed artists’ performing time, regardless the night was one of skilled celebration of music and poetry sandwiched by comedic chaperoning, leaving glowing optimism for the future of live, unsigned UK performers in 2013.