Once again, we are here at my favourite mid-sized venue blessed with the best toilets, great sound, good sight lines and it’s never over sold. The downsides are it seems to emphasise the noise of those ignorant people who insist on talking at the bar during a set. But with the prices they charge for alcohol its cheaper to talk than drink there.
Its fair to say that 2019 has been a breakthrough year for Yola ending it with four Grammy nominations. Seemingly spending most of this year over in the US of A she is back over here for some homecoming end of year shows.
Signs are not good when there is water and Lucozade on a table and then the manager brings a cup of tea on stage. So, it proves as Yola is currently suffering with Bronchitis. Her voice is soft and raspy at the start of the show especially at the low end and there is an obvious restraint certainly to begin with.
Yola has a really interesting back story full of anguish, depression and fire and if you want to know more listen to a great podcast from Chris Shifflett with her. She regales the story of her catching fire and its as probably at this point with ‘Walk through Fire’ the title track of her ‘debut’ album that the shackles start to be loosened on that powerful voice.
The set is largely the same set as when I saw her in May at the 100 Club with the majority if not all the album being played along with some selected covers including an excellent upbeat version of the Birds of Chicago track ‘Never Go Back’.
I have tried really hard to like the album, but I find it a little safe and over produced and certainly doesn’t reach the heights of Yola’s previous band Phantom Limb’s ‘The Pines’. What sets Yola apart though is that voice, it’s such a strong unique instrument and it needs to be in tip top shape to take the listener to the next level. There were moments of this tonight, but it was like a well-oiled engine tonight with one cylinder occasionally misfiring.
It may sound harsh but when Yola herself sets the bar so high being slightly off makes a huge difference. A pleasant enough show with some great moments but it will not live long in the memory.
Till the next time keep on country soul rockin y’all.