As the buzz around Brighton was that there was to be a secret (not so secret) last minute Foo Fighters gig at Concorde II the next day, I was getting ready for a gig that I had been looking forward to for weeks, singer-songwriter Luke Sital-Singh playing at The Haunt in Brighton, with supports from previously unknown to me Karima Francis, who is supporting Luke for the whole tour, and local champion Jacko Hooper, a personal favourite of mine since seeing his EP launch gig at The Brunswick back in July. Read my review of the show and his EP here.
The venue was quite sparsely filled as Jacko opened up the proceedings for the night, far from empty yet not the audience that he deserved. I must admit that I do tend to favour the “one man and his guitar” approach to songwriting, but that said Jacko is a fine example of how that should be done and how you can do so much with just a voice, a piece of wood and six strings. His confident control of the music was exercised with the surgical precision of a Swiss watch-maker, skillfully manipulating every aspect of the songs from the tempo to the melody, the dynamic to the timbre of his voice. As he played through the tracks from his debut EP and a few older numbers the audience filled out, but I still often wonder why people don’t arrive earlier to gigs and see all of the music that they’ve paid for. I’d say that it is their loss but in truth it affects the artists too so I’d strongly suggest people to check out the supports if possible because you never know what you might be missing out on! Fingers crossed in a year or so Jacko will be headlining his own shows in similar venues, with an album under his belt and a fanbase deserving of his songwriting and performing talents.
The main support was Karima Francis, a singer-songwriter from Blackpool, armed with a clean electric guitar sound and a serious head of hair that fell somewhere between Brian May and Slash. Her opening couple of tracks were really good, using some lovely floaty chords and showing a good range in her voice through her interesting melodies. She talked in a very relaxed way to the audience between the songs, coming across as very down to earth but as her set continued, I felt that her voice was slightly lacking in the upper register, not quite belting and not quite going into falsetto but sounding somewhere in between which sounded like it needed a little support. As she spoke about usually playing with a band, perhaps she was a little unaccustomed to performing solo, but nevertheless she gave an assured performance.
At 9pm Luke took to the stage, sitting quietly at an electric piano before bursting out with his first song. His voice is tremendous and he is a fine pianist and guitarist too, skills which are consistently delivered throughout the performance. He was accompanied by a friend on electric guitar and backing vocals whilst he split his time between piano and acoustic guitar, in the way a child shares their time between divorced parents. Having already listened to his album, see my review of it here, I was familiar with the majority of the songs, which were delivered faithful to the recordings but with more room for interpretation in the vocals when performed live. The combination of vocals, particularly in Bottled Up Tight, 21st Century Heartbeat and Greatest Lovers, sounded very lush, but not a touch on the performance at Latitude with the backing of the London Contemporary Voices Choir.
Luke’s way of talking in between the songs seemed very mismatched to his music, which is fairly introvert and gentle. He declared flippantly his dislike for festivals, calling them a massive pain (which granted did get a laugh from the audience, but it was hard to tell how sincere he was being at the time), and suggesting that everybody take a minute to delete the new U2 album from their phones which Apple had kindly gifted its users (whilst this is a weird publicity stunt from U2, I can’t help but feel that any ‘un-camaraderie’ between musicians is a bit of a step in the wrong direction.) He was very outspoken in a kind of playful way but with a slight bite to him. Also, I guess I just wasn’t as impressed with his “depressed-ival” idea as some of the audience were. His 45 minute set had no encore and his thanking of the supports just before the final song felt like an afterthought that lacked sincerity, which is far less than what they deserved. As somebody who has been in their situation not so long ago, I expected a little better.
Whilst I am still a fan of his music and have a strong admiration for his songwriting and musicianship and wish him all the best for the future, I think that he would do well to remember his manners and bite his sometimes acid tongue in order to keep his fans coming back for more. And perhaps an extra couple of songs at the end would go a long way too.
Luke Sital-Singh’s Album ‘The Fire Inside’ is out now.