Review of Becca Stevens at The Troubadour Club, 4th July
Updated: Jan 11, 2019
The renowned folk venue come historical landmark, the Troubadour Club, has seen the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon walk its halls in the past and it is here that I first saw Kurt Elling- adored US songstress Becca Stevens perform a headline show - a quaint, cosy, almost fairy-tale setting highly appropriate for Stevens’ songs inspired by the works of Shakespeare.
Though usually heard alongside her impeccable bandmates: Jordan Perlson (drums), Chris Tordini (acoustic/ electric bass), Liam Robinson (accordion/ keys), tonight Becca performed solo. Minus her band but armed with her ukulele, Stevens’ was impressive in her ability to uphold all the firepower, rhythmic intensity and charm of a full band performance.
Having just released her critically acclaimed new album ‘Regina’, the performance largely consisted of this new material. ‘Regina’ is an album rife with catchy, poppy melodies (as heard on the title track - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zd9Pty7f6v8), which sit neatly alongside more complex harmony and traditional Appalachian folk rhythms. However, die-hard fans of Stevens’ older material were also not left disappointed. Fellow singer-songwriters Michelle Willis and Oli Rockberger joined Becca tonight for several of her older tunes. The trio performed together a rendition of ‘Canyon Dust’ from Stevens’ critically acclaimed second offering Weightless. It was a unique performance capturing Becca’s writing and live performance chops – the complex harmonies, timbres, rhythms and textures made for an exciting live experience.
Another of Becca’s friends to attend and perform was the talented yet humble Laura Mvula. The duo performed ‘Well Loved’, a beautiful, rhythmically intricate song featuring interweaving vocals, Steven’s virtuosic ukulele and Mvula’s heart-wrenching vocals.
Having seen Becca perform at the 02 Academy Brixton supporting fellow innovators Snarky Puppy, it is clear to me that she truly shines brightest in an intimate space where her array of acoustic instruments may beautifully resonate within the room and the raw emotion from her performance can be fully felt. This effect was pertinent during her solo charango/ vocal performance of ‘Both Still Here’ from her new album; an emotional love song with strange, knowing chord changes which is simply addictive.
On the one hand, Stevens thrives in the presence of a small crowd and the intimacy of the Troubadour was perfect, but it must be said that in the presence of such brilliant musicianship, such low turnout was astonishing!