It was the first time in Cambridge for electro-popster Caswell, following on from playing a prestigious support slot at one of Ed Sheeran’s recent homecoming shows.
I missed the first two support bands but was lucky enough to see a fine set by Leicester-based singer Miša. With a relaxed stage presence and a seemingly effortless soulful voice her compositions were enhanced by two empathetic musicians – flowing, sumptuous bass and jazzy, sonorous guitar weaved around the vocal lines. I particularly liked ‘Good Things Are Coming’, based around a reassuring descending chord sequence. Her smooth songs went down well with the chilled-out Blue Moon audience.
I last saw Caswell at her EP launch in Ipswich earlier this year, reviewed at https://cambridgemusicreviews.net/tag/caswell/. Tonight she took to the stage with confidence and flair, her three-piece band on top form and an excellent sound mix in this intimate venue. With these elements in place it is her songs and personality that shine through – each track is a polished gem of soul-infused electronica; with a subtle melancholia pervading some of the up-beat tempos. It is music to lose yourself in when the band kick in with thunderstrikes of sound as Caswell’s vocals soar with power but hints of vulnerability.
The superior pop anthem ‘Dance Sober’ is still one of the highlights of her set – Caswell was pleased to receive audience recognition when it started. The band had a real chance to shine on ‘Hurt Me Bad’ with the contrasting sections of light and dark and having heard a cover of ‘Glory Box’ on the Blue Moon stage the previous night here was another, taking the essence of the song and pushing it to the limits.
It was getting late on a Sunday evening so unfortunately no time for the classy last single ‘Surface’ but on the evidence of these shows there will be plenty more opportunities to hear this talented performer…
This was the sold-out launch of second EP ‘Blindside’ from singer/songwriter Caswell, and was also a showcase for two other very talented performers in an excellent venue.
There was already a substantial audience when Alfie Indra started his set with ‘Hard To Cope’. His recorded songs and live performances are normally with a full band but tonight we had the low-key backing of 4-string tenor guitar or electric piano allowing the lyrics to shine through. His vocal style was well suited to this intimate performance space. New single ‘Monster Under The Bed’ and ‘Cool People’ (with crowd joining in) were particularly impressive.
Hydra Lerna is a multi-talented songwriter/singer/producer; creating her original music from electronic loop patterns driven by keyboard and an instrument not often seen in this setting, the harp.
Current single ‘Reckless’ was the stylish opening track; with distant, longing synth tones and a waterfall of strings establishing the structure ready for Hydra’s rich, compelling vocals. The song builds up into a many-layered soundscape with glorious recurring chorus before fading back to just the harp.
In ‘Angel V. Psycho’ the harp sound is processed into a tortured electric guitar tone weaving through a personal lyric set to an easy, relaxed rhythm then the heartfelt words of ‘Distraction’ were explained to the audience before the sparse electronica made the point elegantly.
A solo harp version of Dua Lipa’s ‘Electricity’ fitted in smoothly before the uptempo finale ‘Hydra’ brought this stunning set to a close.
(Hydra Lerna is playing her debut Cambridge show at the Blue Moon on September 27th, see you there!)
With nearly half a million streams on Spotify, ‘Animal’ was a strong set opener, its soulful groove immediately showcased Caswell’s expressive vocals. ‘Surface’, my favourite song from the new EP featured early on with its anticipation-building introduction resolving into a hypnotic anthem. This was one of the many songs that highlighted the dynamic range of her three-piece band; going from subtle keyboards and busy percussion to bold brushstrokes of electronics and thunderous bass during the show.
We were treated to a mighty re-imagining of Portishead’s ‘Glory Box’ with its familiar descending chord sequence underpinning vocal fireworks, contrasting with the restrained emotions of ‘Cry’, a gorgeous ballad from Caswell’s well-received first EP ‘The Shadow Aspect’. From that same release it was ‘Dance Sober’ that really set the room alight – it is the sort of song that you think must have been a huge hit already and this extended version pushed all before it, Caswell’s voice scaling the heights, the band letting loose and a guest rapper included too!
After the adrenaline filled set, the calm encore of ‘Brother’ was a calming, thoughtful end to the show, sending a very fortunate audience off into the night.