To those uninitiated, which up until very recently included myself, allow me to let you in on a secret. It seems there is an underground collective of brilliant songwriters and musicians who have formed a professional and friendship alliance.
Members of this alliance find themselves on collaborative writing retreats pulled together by the magnificent Chris Difford (of Squeeze fame) where they conjure up the hits of the future. People like you and I can only guess at what happens on these retreats…but at the Karamel Music Club we are given the chance to hear the kind of talent that makes up the alliance and sample some of the results!
The Karamel Music Club is the brainchild of Wood Green’s Chocolate Factory and the ridiculously talented Chris Sheehan. This is a free night every few weeks where people can socialise and eat and bask in some brilliant music.
On the menu on Wednesday night I had the pleasure of hearing Angie Pollock, Geoff Martyn and Athena. If these names don’t sound instantly familiar then worry not, I too had only heard whisperings of their work prior to this eye-opening night of marvel.
Angie Pollock took to the stage first and I’m still in awe. Playing largely solo just herself and a piano, she has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve experienced live. Her songs have that incredible charm of being both obscenely catchy and delightfully meaningful. Somehow it was her solo debut – she has played keys for a fine range of acts including Goldfrapp and The Lightning Seeds. She will be on the scene from now on, or else she is letting us all down. A gem of a way to start.
Geoff Martyn was up next having come all the way down from Glasgow to play for free. Chris, who introduced him on stage, had already warned us to be ready for some blistering vocals. What I wasn’t prepared for was such meaning translated through song. A fantastic set where he excelled on keys and guitar with such strong hooks coming through his music, but what moved me most was the emotion behind his voice. It is talent like this that can’t be taught, and highlights the naffness of singing competitions that dominate TV schedules across the globe. Singing isn’t just about holding a tune, it’s about putting emotion into the words. Geoff wouldn’t just win one of these competitions, he’d break the speakers of your TV if he were let loose on a weepy number.
The headline act was the stunning Athena, who took to the stage with a full band and set out to delight us with numbers from her new album Peeling Apples. Athena has that hypnotic quality about her that makes it extremely difficult to notice anything else in the room. She has a very sexy stage presence and her songs are dynamic, melodic and catchy. As she took to the stage a little late I had determined to only see her opening number. Seven songs later and I had to wrench myself away or be stuck in a strange part of town until the morning. Those seven songs were enough to show me that Athena’s star is on the rise and it won’t surprise me at all if she goes household in the coming months. One song in particular made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up as she sang about the regret of meeting someone new and special, but not being able to follow through with her feelings due to an existing love that she’d put years of work into. Moving, gripping stuff that puts so many modern love-songs to shame. Fantastic.
These three acts have shown me what classy brilliant songwriting and performing we have out there and I am so excited to have found this venue. I am told that this was indeed a great night, but not untypical of these events.
I’m not the gushy sort, but this one night of outstanding music really touched me. The venue is magical; the people just brilliant, the host – Chris, a total legend, and the music will inspire you. Awesome.