Jade Bird at Stylus, Leeds, UK – 15th November 2019

Posted by Bianca on Friday Nov 15, 2019 Under Americana, Folk rock, Indie

Review + Photography by John Hayhurst

Well everybody’s heard about the Bird – Jade Bird gives plenty of Joy in Leeds.

Friday night in the Leeds University campus, deep down 2 flights of stairs is ‘Stylus’ a nice venue, plenty of good viewing points and several bars along the sides. I’m here tonight to catch Jade Bird as I missed her gig at the much smaller ‘Wardrobe’ this time last year. The rise and rise of her unique vocal talents for someone still so young (now 22) means that tonight is also sold out and there are people of all ages on the rail. Old guys who know a good thing when they hear it, plenty of Students and then I even spied a couple of small kids with their Mum, either she couldn’t get a sitter, or more likely Jade Bird is their favourite new singer – they can’t even see above the barrier.

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Having heard her album, you would be forgiven for thinking she was brought up just south of Nashville USA, but NO! you would be completely wrong, in fact she is probably the biggest rising star of UK’s Americana league (if there ever was such a thing). Born a “Northern Bird”, in Hexham, but has travelled around the UK a bit as part of an Army family, eventually graduating from the BRIT school in Croydon only 3 years ago.

A white acoustic guitar is put on and she humbly steps out into the spotlight and on to her circular mat, rarely stepping outside of that zone around her mic all night. “This is a bit crazy, thanks for coming” she exclaims and then straight into ‘Ruins’ her 3-piece band appear very much in the shadows as Bird bursts those vocals for the first time tonight. Her ability to move from soft whispering notes to the full-on power scream is impressive, there is no holding back on the volume as her belting choruses are equally pitch perfect as they are loud. It is that confidence and ability that marked her out as “One to Watch” in many polls for this year and I fully expect her to be in line for a shot at a Brit Award in 2020, as that’s what tends to happen if you went to their school!

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Surprisingly, she throws one of her hits out early, as ‘Uh Huh’ is next, not really needing to do that as we are all already pretty much warmed up, it made you wonder what she was leaving in the reserve tank. The other biggie ‘I Get No Joy’ nicely in the middle of the set and the speed words of the chorus are crazy fast, no idea what she is singing but it sounded great.

Bird is not frightened to tackle the odd cover song, and has been known to do a great version of The Bangles ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’, but tonight she steps into some sacred territory with Radiohead’s ‘Black Star’ and Blondie’s ‘Call Me’ both of which are spellbinding but ‘Black Star’ wins hands down as the shock of the night.

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Another single ‘My Motto’ has a more ballad feel about it, showing she can do soft too when she tries, and then ‘Going Gone’ is a cool singalong counting song which gets everyone clapping along, very KT Tunstall like in delivery. Ending the album set with ‘Love Has All Been Done Before’. Her debut album played in full live, with a couple of stunning covers added.

Jade came back to the stage on her own to do a final song, she sat at the keyboard for the very emotional ‘If I Die’, quite brilliant but a little quiet for an encore, couldn’t help but think ‘Uh Huh’ would have been better placed. However, that said, another brilliant show from this girl who can only get bigger in 2020 and beyond. If the Americans don’t take her in as one of their own, I’ll be amazed, but for now get to a show while she is playing these small halls in the UK.

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SETLIST: Ruins, Uh Huh, Good Woman, Side Effects, Good At It, Does Anybody Know, Black Star, What Am I Here For, 17, I Get No Joy, Call Me, Hold That Thought, Lottery, My Motto, Something American, Cathedral, Going Gone, Love Has All Been Done Before ENCORE: If I Die

LISTENING: Jade Bird – Album released 19th April 2019

WATCHING: Lottery, I Get No Joy and Uh Huh Live from MTV

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