A lovely way to spend a Sunday evening; able to relax and reflect on the day’s gone past and those to come. The last night of their three day tour, visiting each band’s hometown, Bridge the Gap concluded in Hull.
Union Mash Up, along Princes Avenue, was packed to standing room only. If you know the venue, this doesn’t mean hundreds of people, but an intimate few. Still, it was good to see such a busy event held on a Sunday. The reasons for this were obvious even before the first band took to the warm stage by the hearth.
Dimly lit by candles and fairy lights, Emma Fee stood before the collection of family, friends and fans, introducing the first band. They were The Finest Hour from Cleethorpes. A classic pub band sound, with that mixture of male-lead Folk and Rock. They had quite a loud sound for the small venue, a mixture of acoustic punk and folk rock.
Rob Bywater has a stunning voice, gentle and charming while still powerful when required by the lyrics. It reminded me of the simplistic beauty I’ve always associated with vocalists such as Rob Thomas, who captivates the audience with natural charisma. The last song saw a shift in vocals, with Bywater passing over to the guitarist Sam Simmons. Equally alluring, the combination of vocals during harmonies was a clean synchronisation. It was this final song which had invisible fingers stroking the hairs on the back of my neck, leaving me a little forlorn when they stepped back into the crowd.
The divide between the banks of the Humber is not as distinct as it used to be. I have lived on both sides for about the same length of time, and the one town which was mocked on both is Scunthorpe, where Chris Cooper Band hail from.
Playing songs from their album, which was available to purchase, the romantic atmosphere was set again within mere seconds of them picking up their instruments. Most songs took on a similar structure, with a slow instrumental build up, Chris Cooper’s delightfully husky voice and then throwing in some fast tempo and loud volume sections. With a sound you can match to Rod Stewart, it was easy to fall under the spell of Chris Cooper alone, but with the backing vocals and instruments, you were swept into the moment entirely.
Their song ‘By My Side’ was like a good date, opening with his soul on his sleeve, adding personality and charisma with every verse, and ending by stealing your heart. They had some slow songs which just intensified the reaction, both physical and emotional, felt across the room. There had been minimal chatter while The Finest Hour performed, but these guys played to a truly entranced audience.
All those years I have mocked “sunny Scunny”, and now I can see the beautiful sunshine which lives in that town, the rose attached to the thorn.
Happy Endings, the hosts for this third night of their Humber our, started with “the opposite of a crescendo” as they sang a remixed downbeat version of ‘Out of Bounds’. The cement which makes this such a perfect line-up, poignant tracks and stunning vocals, this time female-lead passing between sisters Emma and Rachel Fee, had the audience pulled in by the heartstrings once again. With Happy Endings you yielded to the emotions stirred by The Finest Hour and Chris Cooper Band. “Masquerade”, which they aim to feature on the new album, is a haunting song about the masks we wear in front of each other.
Playing a mixture of old and new songs, the audience were able to enjoy their downbeat and more upbeat tunes. ‘To Die For’, one Emma Fee stated was a favourite of hers, covered both, starting slow but becoming more cheery and quick as the chorus was repeated. Just as the sentiments were built to a pinnacle, Emma concludes the song with an echo of the opening sound.
Each band sent a shiver down my spine, in that way which only truly beautiful music can, collectively taking the room on a journey of emotions. Even the barman was able to enjoy each set as the audience were so captivated. And to make it a perfect evening, everyone was so easy-going and pleasant to spend time with. Complete strangers were chatting away by the end of the night, the bands mingling, comfortably rotating in their seats as the next got up to perform. It was so reassuringly supportive, with the Fee’s smiling at each other in silent encouragement and obvious joy, and the sharing of a guitar as Rob Bywater’s saw a tragic end recently.
This is what you can expect from any of these performers – a compassionate, comforting and beautiful presentation of emotions.
Originally written for Browse Magazine
Photos courtesy of Imagernation Media