If you’re looking for music in Kingston, there’s pretty much always something going on. Whether you want to buy some music from Banquet Records or watch some at The Fighting Cocks, The Hippodrome or The Grey Horse, there’ll be something for you. This week’s Open Mic Night in the Ram Jam at The Grey Horse showcased a vast and eclectic mix of performers, making it one of RJ’s busiest Open Mic events to date!
There were a few particularly stand-out acts, including BBC Introducing performer Jack Grace who had just popped in after a University of Kingston Alumni gig at The Rose Theatre.
Bournemouth-born and raised, I overheard Jack explaining to an audience member that he grew up in Folk clubs in the South-West and it’s clear to see this Folk and Soul influence in his songwriting and singing style. What really turned my head was the power in his voice. When he sang out, his voice was completely controlled and filled every crevice in the room, which was a beautiful contrast to the quieter parts of the songs. Jack managed to completely silence the venue with this technique. His songs were largely melancholy but more than that, they had an almost cathartic feel to them. It was a pleasant surprise to have Jack and I know for a fact that he left a lasting impression on many people.
Below is one of the songs he played on the night and one of my personal favourites, Clocks.
Another Folk and Soul influenced act from the night was the acoustic duo ‘The Beare Sisters’.
The girls had a similar vibe to them as Swedish act First Aid Kit, utilising similar harmonies, but were more R’n’B than Country. They describe themselves as “Bringing soft, sweet, acoustic R'n'B tunes to you all” and that perfectly sums up their act. They began with a beautiful and unique rendition of Rock With You by Michael Jackson and ended on a few originals. What particularly intrigued me about their music was their use of space; they used both the guitar and their voices sparingly, leaving the listener to take in the sound for that little bit longer and reflect on it. This technique leaves the girls very open and vulnerable, which I felt enhanced the emotions of the audience.
Below is one of the songs played on the night, titled Girls.
The night ended with Surrey-based band HydroCell. Early-2000s Indie bands such as The Strokes heavily influence the group’s music, and they particularly reminded me of The Libertines. However they also had a strong rock influence, particularly in parts without the distinct indie-sounding Stratocaster.
Hydrocele commanded the stage and the music was well-crafted and fun, something people of all ages would be able to enjoy. At one point I had to pop out and just by the door swinging open, many intrigued customers in other parts of the pub pulled me aside to ask what was going on! The guys really looked like they were having fun and their playing reflected that. The confident group ended the night on a high and left the crowd buzzing!
Have a listen to their song Content With Concise below!