Gig 11: HMV Next Big Thing – Jake Morley, Sam Brookes, Liam Blake / The Jazz Cafe, Camden /12.02.12

A couple of months ago, Wist and I saw Scott Matthews at Bush Hall.
Sam Brookes, his support, was fantastic and I duly signed up to his mailing list – which helpfully informed me about this gig at the Jazz Cafe, Camden. The Jazz Cafe is quite a hard venue to get your head around – from the outside it looks wholly impressive, once inside you feel a bit disappointed. But when you leave, you know you have to go back.

Sam played main support to Jake Morley. His set was stronger than before – his vocals were richer and he really took advantage of his impressive range. His guitar work was pro and he seemed to hold himself more comfortably on this stage than Bush Hall’s.
The odd cheeky smile or joke showed everyone he didn’t take himself too seriously and he managed to own the stage and fill the room to a much greater extent than the 5 piece band on before him.
I didn’t start writing this blog to rip on any musicians, so I’d rather not talk too much about the opener, Liam Blake, as there wasn’t many positive things to say. He was pretty vanilla and hiding insincere lyrics and a whispered voice behind a full band sound did nothing to convince the audience. He welcomed the Cadbury Sisters to the stage for a couple of songs, but even their ‘Stave’ imitations did nothing to win over the audience and most people were contented holding their own conversations during his turn at the mike.

His set did of course do one good thing – when Sam Brookes started playing – everyone noticed.
The room fell silent and he played a sterling set. He really is one to watch for 2012.

Jake Morley took to the stage by himself for the first song of his set. A skilled lap-tapper and a great songwriter – his first number showcased his ability to drag his audience into his world without the need for a heavy hitting rhythm section or layered backing vocals.
He invited his bassist to the stage for the second track. By sheer coincidence, the man in question ‘JP’ is also one half of Nizlopi – a band I’ve lavished considerable praise on before. JP’s bowed double bass weaved beautifully with the second acoustic track and was a sure sign of what was to come.
One by one, Jake Morley invited his band to the stage and soon the stage was full of talented musos.
The tracks were well rehearsed and the energy between band members was felt by all in the audience – you could just tell this was a harmonious group off stage as well as on stage.
Personal favourites were ‘Many fish to fry’ and ‘Be with me once more’ – playful, sometimes silly lyrics cleverly masking much deeper emotional ground, coupled with catchy melodies and solid support from the talented band.
I agree with HMV on this one – Jake Morley could (and should) be the next big thing.

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