A Voice for Our Times
Live music and Anna Ash
There’s live music and then there’s Anna Ash. I have loved music for as long as I can remember. However, in the past few years, I had forgotten why I loved going to gigs. I’ve even started asking myself, “Why am I going to see this act live again?” It’s just as easy to stick on a CD (yes, I still use CDs, I like the physicality of them) or pop on a vinyl (even more vintage) and feel encapsulated by the music.
Three artists I have seen live stood out for me this year. I had the pleasure of hearing Emily Barker sing on a rainy summer’s eve with a backdrop of Birnbeck pier. This was an event put on by my local vegan and vegetarian cafe, Loves. This was a magical night, yes, it was raining, torrential, by the end, but one lady and her guitar strummed away the rain and took hold of our ears and imagination.
The second gig which stands out in my mind was RSVP, Britains’ bhangra band, vibrant in colours and sounds. If you want a party, to learn how to dance ‘Bollywood’, these are the guys. It might just be me, but I feel like I’ve been to many gigs where the audience becomes a wall for artists to play against, rather than a canvas to bring to life. If you want to feel alive, which I’m sure many do after the two years we’ve had, RSVP, being bhangra, will revitalise you, your dancing feet and involve the audience in a way you may have never experienced before.
Now, to Anna Ash, who was on at Loves cafe. I produce a Folk Show on Wave Community Radio, called Folk with Flic and was invited as a guest by Loves, who sponsor the show. It was also the first indoor performance they’ve had since Covid hit us. What a woman to kick off this event!
I love seeing people perform and I was so excited to hear Anna Ash sing live. She began by mentioning she didn’t have her band with her and in all honesty I think it made the evening more special. Ash has a voice which sounds sweet and sincere on her recordings, it reminds me of creme brûlée; thick and creamy with a glasslike sugar on top. Hearing her live was better than I could have imagined. This was no musician in a shop window, this was a performer who captured everyone in the room.
I was sat in the seating area on the first floor, able to get a good view of the congregation. Loves has a way of setting a room up for enchantment, perfect lighting and its size means it makes gigs intimate. As the evening went on, young faces sat behind the railings and dangled their feet over the edge. There was barely a hushed whisper as Anna sang. There were times I found myself nodding at moments in the music, they just worked. It’s not easy to solo with an instrument, captivating an audience with it is a skill Anna Ash has. Her songs tell stories and her voice is strong. It’s as natural as it sounds on her recordings, but being live, it’s like feeling a refreshing breeze on your cheeks. If I could describe her singing visually, I would say it’s as clear and strong as a new shoot forcing itself out of the soil. The sincerity of her voice provides the listener with something stable, as if its singing the words for the first time. There was a point where she sang a note which was so poignant it seemed as though the world stopped spinning.
I’ve never heard a voice like that before. I won’t forget it either. In a world where rules are constantly changing and not knowing what things might look like in the next few months, to hear someone sing like that, with conviction and honesty, was a comfort. Thank you for a wonderful evening, Anna Ash and Loves cafe.