The general opinion seems to be that the live music venue is an endangered species these days. Even ex Beatles recently bemoaned the issue (Ringo with rather more energy than that other bloke) and this may well be true, but dig a little deeper and there are great venues playing host to fabulous performances every night of the week in London town which brings us to Dalston on a surprisingly chilly Monday night in October.
The Servant Jazz Quarters is one such gem located down a side street a mere stone’s throw from Dalston Kingsland Overground Station and Gitta De Ridder is one such performer. The SJQ is a bijou bar with an intimate live performance space downstairs that proved to be the ideal venue for the UK launch of 'Feathers' the debut album from Anglo-Dutch singer - songwriter Gitta De Ridder. The small space, with subtle white lighting adding to the ambience, is cosy and inviting and the all-important sound was crystal clear (getting guitars and vocals to sound this good is harder that you might think).
Gitta De Ridder recorded her debut album while living in London and told us she felt very much at home here and the album was very much a record about London. SJQ definitely seemed like home for her tonight and her performance was enchanting as she played the complete 'Feathers' album while littering the set with small asides about the songs allowed her personality to shine through. Her voice is wonderful and she effortlessly switched from an almost childlike gentleness up through the range and this coupled with fine songs was a winning combination.
Opening the show, as does the album, with a quite stunning rendition of 'Wanderer' Gitta and her guitar were accompanied by Laura Frances and the delicately intricate vocal harmonies of the pair had the room in thrall. It's difficult to pick favourites but 'Till The Day That I Die' was sublime and 'Alternate Reality' is just such a terrific song. An earlier EP release was represented by 'Come Find Me' which when performed complete with "Hello" audience participation took on a quirky quality that was very endearing. A new song 'These Hands’ was slipped in and demonstrated there will be much more to come in the near future with plans to record with Stephen Hodd who stepped up to play guitar, and add a third vocal harmony, to a cracking version of ‘Even If’ the most recent single from the album.
It would be remiss of me not to feature Stephen Hodd who had opened the evening with a short but very sweet set of tunes from his upcoming (soon I hope) album 'Ode'. If the likes of 'Breathless' the gently percussive 'Reckless Gambler' and 'For You I' are indicative of the album then it should be very good indeed.
Tonight was a triumph for Gitta De Ridder and this was one of the most impressive shows I've seen in a good while. Gitta De Ridder has, on this showing and the strength of her debut album, a very bright future and is definitely one to watch.