Chasing Grace at the Social
Little Portland Street’s The Social is packed to breaking point with ecstatic fans when Chasing Grace – aka Grace Ackerton and Phil Plested, performance arts graduates from Hertfordshire – boldly take up their positions. At just 19 and 21, this baby-faced duo have stampeded their way into the mainstream with some big-name contacts. In 2012 they played their first gig supporting Emeli Sandé, and supported Ellie Goulding on her 2012 tour shortly afterwards.
They kick off with Trust, which features Plested on verse and both harmonising on the chorus. It’s a poppy, commercial track, with vague, catch-all lyrics. He’s a skilled vocalist, but nonetheless there’s something a little off-putting about Phil’s nasal, Ben Howard-esque tone. It’s the James Blunt school of wounded, straight laced acoustic singing, which has for now had its day.
Therefore, as the name suggests, this band really are chasing Grace. Baby-blonde powerhouse Ackerton was a perfect support act for Goulding; her miniature in a sense, with that English-rose, butter-wouldn’t-melt appearance contravened by searing vocals. Ackerton has an expressive presence, and tambourine-wielding energy.
Chasing Grace’s producer, Naughty Boy, has lead them to some interesting urban collaborations such as George the poet, and there is an interesting grime/R n B edge to some of the tracks on their EP, Dinner Will Be Served. A cover of Rhianna and Drake’s Take Care is wonderfully harmonised and distinct from the original, if a little saccharine. Feel the Love follows this, which in its poppy digestibility has nothing to mark it out. Runaway is better, with a chorus that utilises Ackerton’s honed vibrato.
Maybe due to their performing arts background and their early entrance into the limelight, Chasing Grace play as if to a massive crowd, even in this tiny venue. They are attention grabbing energy-bubbles, making a great show of brow-mopping and immense surprise at any applause they get. It would be easy to say, from their people-pleasing approach and tender age, that Chasing Grace are getting too big for their boots. But a combination of luck, ability to make contacts, and Grace’s searing talent means that this band do have the potential for mass appeal. They are so fully prepared for their encore that they forget to even make a proper show of leaving the stage. Just as well, it is the best part of the gig, a mash-up of Goulding’s Goodness Gracious and their own work. Once this crowd-pleasing partnership let go of the shirt-tails of their musical influences and find their own path, they’re set for a great run.
Chasing Grace are at The Social every Monday in February. For further information and future events visit Chasing Grace’s website here.
Watch the video for Trust here: