New Faces | Seafret, Flyte, Dan Owen & Jack Watts

Saturday, November 28, 2015 2 Comments A+ a-

25th November 2015
@ St. Stephen's Church, London

Whoever walked past Stephen's Church last Wednesday evening would have noticed a queue. However, this was not made of the traditional worshipers. As the doors opened at 7.30, the crowd made sure to pick up a beer and a good spot. And who needs pews? The floor and the corners right next to the pulpit would very well do, as long as you could hear & see Jack Watts, Dan Owen, Flyte & Seafret from up close.

The venue, just around the corner from Shepherd's Bush Market, was stage for the New Faces 2015 tour, promoted by the label Communion (just to keep with the theme). After travelling through the UK - with gigs in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Oxford and Bristol - the 4 acts sold out the London evening before heading to Brighton for a closing gig at the Green Door Store.

And from Brighton is Jack Watts, the first one to perform. His vocal range is out of this world and he makes it look so so simple. Apart from an amazing vocalist, Jack is a very accomplished lyricist and he's not afraid of pouring his heart into his music. Perhaps it was the setting combined with the sadness of songs such as Push Blue, anticipated by the almost unrecognisable cover of Blind Faith - again, we were in a church - by Chase & Status, but Jack's performance had an eerie and visceral quality. The kind which would easily give you goosebumps. In a good way. Also in his set were two brilliant songs from his first EP, the title track Red Shortbread and We Lost it All. He definitely set the bar high.

Next to come was blues boy Dan Owen. The seemingly shy fellow wondering around the venue in a jumper took on the stage to make the audience fall in love at first track. Opening with the beautiful and breathtaking Fall Like a Feather, he had all of us hypnotised by his deep and raw voice in a matter of seconds. Next he played the opening track of his EP Bad For Me, Splinter, which he introduced with the sweetest childhood tale, about how splinters could travel all the way up to one's heart. If there was a single soul who had not yet become a fan, at this point he left us no choice. We were all clapping and cheering as we watched him brilliantly and so enthusiastically play the harmonica and guitar to Made, Parachutes and - one of my favourites - Riding Out the Storm. Luckily, if you missed New Faces, you can see him next month in Camden, at The Jazz Cafe, part of the Time Out Best of Rising Stars.

Dan had all of us in such a high after his set that surely wasn't easy for Flyte to follow. Apart from the obvious fact they are a full on band - with drums, electric guitars & bass - the London based quartet seemed at first the odd one out in the line up, sounding fairly different to the other 3 acts. But it didn't take long until Will Taylor (vocals, guitar) had us all laughing at his jokes - from Flyte transfer tattoos for sale to Sam Berridge's (keyboards) many talents - and singing along to the upbeats Eloise and We Are the Rain. Flyte stands out for being a pretty polished band, with nicely rounded up arrangements and strong backing vocals. The set included a couple of new songs, such as Faithless - again, whoever put this all together has an interesting sense of humour - and probably their most well known track, Light Me Up.

At 22.15 it was time for Jack Sedman and Harry Draper to hit the stage. The acoustic duo from Bridlington - I also had to look it on the map - aka Seafret are yet to release their first album. Tell Me It's Real comes out on January 29th. Their music is heartfelt and melancholic, but on stage they're warm and know how to bring the audience in. They've opened with Give Me Something, followed by the brand new single Wildfire (somehow people already knew the lyrics and Jack seemed well impressed). Amongst the non yet released tracks, Skimming Stones, Tell Me It's Real, Missing and There's a Light made the set. They're all very much in line with their known material, with impressive vocal performances and beautifully written melodies. Atlantis and Oceans had people singing along, eyes closed, feeling each word, whilst Be There, the last song of the night, made it pretty hard for one to stand still. If you're seeing Kodaline in London on the 15th or 16th December, make sure to arrive early, as they're one of the opening acts. Otherwise, you can get a ticket for the 100 Club performance, in Soho, February next year. In case you're wondering, I've already got mine.

* All above photos by Zaira. More at Postmodern Mixtape page on Facebook.


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