Sophie Barker at The Tabernacle
Before Sophie Barker takes to the stage, the promoter spends a few words enthusing about her current sound, declaring this crop of musicians to be the best band she’s ever worked with. Later, midway through her set, Sophie herself thanks her sound technician, claiming he’s created the best sound she’s ever had.
So there’s a feeling of rebirth in the air, which is funny because tonight Barker is actually plugging a collection of B-sides and live recordings, having released her last album of originals almost two years ago.
Comprised of the usual guitar, drum kit and bass, the addition of a keyboard, violin and occasional saxophone gives the band a richer and jazzier feel. Unfortunately, the individual members do not reveal their personalities to the audience and any instrumental solos are muted and unobtrusive.
At times, the concert echoes Sophie’s work with Zero 7 and that late 90s/early 00s sound for which they were known. But when she picks up her guitar and starts strumming for the big chorus numbers, a different sort of music emerges. It is a sound more indie than trip-hop, although still with a certain nostalgia.
The fair-sized audience gathered in the wonderful Tabernacle enjoy this throwback, with favourites such as Seagull and Say Goodbye receiving a particularly good response. However, not all eyes are fixed firmly on the stage and there’s a peculiar lack of chemistry in the room.
Sophie’s voice is unspectacular and the fact that her music is not contemporary only underlines this further. The show recalls a time, pre-Amy Winehouse, when we expected a little less from our vocalists.
The highlight comes with the encore: the Zero 7 song In the Waiting Line, which Sophie delivers with a hushed and sauntering voice, to which she’s more suited. It’s a frustratingly good end to a largely underwhelming gig.
Photos: Ondrej Kubiček
For further information and future events visit Sophie Barker’s website here.
Watch the video for Say Goodbye here: