Gig Review by Adrienne Frances with Photography by Lee Allen

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Fabrizio Cammarata is a petite yet somewhat smouldering figure (think Oscar Isaac) with a great voice (think Oscar Isaac: Inside Llewyn Davis) and a long and winding career in Europe. Tonight he sounded great – serious and focused. His interests in film, photography and art were evident in his lyrics, and choice of cover songs demonstrated his broad cultural background, including a Washington Philips track which was soulful and sad.

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Fabrizio Cammarata has a greater following in Europe than in the UK, but with gigs supporting the likes of Ben Harper, and jam sessions with Damien Rice, maybe it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing more of him?

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I came late to the Hoop train, as mentioned in my earlier review of her tour with Sam Beam (of Iron and Wine fame). It’s no secret that I obsess over female singer songwriters – specifically those whose songs elicit feelings of sorrow and loss. Hoop’s earlier work varies in sound to my ears – unbeknownst to me, I’d heard ‘Born To’ many many times on BBC 6Music, without registering who she was, with it washing over me. But that song is heavily produced, with full band. And my preference is Hoop on her own with a guitar, stripped back and intimate.

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And that’s what we got at the Deaf Institute. A setlist of 12 tracks, half of which were new tracks, and all were just Hoop and her guitar. One of the new tracks I knew already – ‘Pegasi’ – having been treated to it when she toured with Sam Beam. Other new tracks matched this acoustic storytelling vibe, including title track from her forthcoming album (February 2017) ‘Memories are Now’.

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Favourites were ‘Murder of Birds’ (just as lovely without Guy Garvey), and ‘Hunting my Dress’ and ‘Know the Wild That Wants You’ (both just as lovely without Sam Beam). The latter is maybe my favourite track of all, with the mantra:

“feel your own bones say: heal yourself
hear your own heart moan: love yourself and come home“

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Beyond her beautiful voice, she’s a charismatic presence on stage, dressed in elaborate skirt, blouse and waistcoat combo. She talks to the audience as though you’re sitting in her living room, just having a chat. She told us all off for not doing the washing up correctly (‘always rinse!’) and despaired over the lack of toilet seat covers in Britain. This led Lee to remark on how she’s sort of a crazy and cool Mary Poppins – chastising over household chores, but ultimately someone you could also tell your deepest darkest secrets to.

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As so much of her set comprised of new tracks, she kept thanking the audience for the patience and willingness to explore and refine this new material with her. And yet no patience was required, as the set felt powerful and raw, but not at all unrefined. She even remarked on how the older tracks (including ‘Born To’) she’d always intended them to be more pure than the finished iterations – stating ‘when you get in a room full of boys, it’s easy to get swept away with their suggestions… but this was how I always imagined these songs to be’. And this is how I love her: a voice, a guitar, and beautiful songs.

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