After a run of kvetching* up at the Edinburgh Festival, Rachael Sage seemed to have exorcised her gripes and groans when she took to the stage at The Regal Room above The Distillers pub in Hammersmith, West London. Taking first to the stage, she looked relaxed and at ease, ready to make some new friends in the crowd.
Fans will have recognised upbeat songs such as the new single 'Big Star' from her latest album, Delancey Street. The intimate nature of the cabaret style setting allowed her to encourage people to click along and even join in on kazoos, strategically placed amongst the tables. Stripped back to just Rachael on keyboards and vocals, and her cellist Steven holding up the basslines, there was a pleasing simplicity to her performance that suited the unpretentious setting.
So many performers these days have an edge of sterility, enforced by busy tour schedules and the repetitive nature of playing songs over and over again. Heartfelt passion for performing, evident in the wry smile that played over her lips as she looked across the crowd, and a rejection of rigid set lists, all led to Rachael's show avoiding feeling staid.
Following Rachael, was Modeste, a guitarist reminiscent of Fela Kuti style afrobeat. A solo performer, one of the real let downs of the evening was that he was not given a longer slot in the line-up. Talented but under-appreciated, he added diversity to the sound of the evening that was dominated by ballad driven female vocalists.
Modeste was closely tailed by acoustic duo, Ryan Marshall and Jemma O'Neill. Perhaps a little lacking in variety, the focus of their set had to go to Jemma's deep aching vocals reminiscent of a combination between Beverley Knight and Alicia Keys. But that was perhaps not surprising in an evening fit to burst with strong female vocalists up front.
Not to disappoint in that regard was the final act of the evening, Kinesha. With her wild, curly Welsh locks, their lead singer burst forth with many a song written in Cornwall and elsewhere. These included one in particular, scathingly titled 'You Are The Most Pathetic Little Lover In The World'. In a night where men definitely took the bit-parts, a rousing sing-a-long to that chorus confirmed the cathartic yet relaxed vibe permeating the evening.
*Yiddish word for complaining.