Jade Bird at Omeara
The phrases “up-and-coming artist” and “one to watch” may be thrown around too impulsively these days, but there’s something about Jade Bird that makes you wholeheartedly believe those words. Playing her biggest headline gig to date at the Omeara, it soon became evident after one song and some naturally comedic stage banter that this was just the first night of an even greater journey ahead.
Showcasing a long setlist of short, unfamiliar tunes to an audience can be challenging, but armed with an acoustic guitar, an impressive catalogue of songs and a powerfully beautiful voice, Jade Bird did not bat an eyelid and the crowd’s attention and respect did not waver in response. She performed all the tracks from debut EP Something American, including the haunting What Am I Here For and Cathedral, which recently caught the attention of Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show. Surprise guest Will Rees (Mystery Jets) accompanied fun performances of Good Woman and Grinnin’ in Your Face, but even more of a highlight was the collective goosebumps from a piano cover of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill, which Bird sang with poise and vocal perfection. The eclectic range of tunes also included tongue-in-cheek Uh-huh, the never-been-performed Good At It and the stunning If I Die, featuring the lyrics “If I die, put me in a song” – and crowd silence.
Similarities can be drawn between the likes of Birdy and Gabrielle Aplin, but it’s hard to describe the singer’s voice because there are too many unexpected sides: a smooth line or rocky edge, jumping octaves and back again. A little bit folk, country, pop, blues…she’s definitely not in one box. When she sings a ballad, it’s raw and chilling with a juxtaposition of innocence and maturity. When she delivers the chorus of an upbeat country number, it’s husky and soars intuitively. There’s a noticeable contrast between recordings and live performances, however; an audio file simply doesn’t do her justice.
There’s no denying Bird’s vocal ability, but she had the personality package too. Her conversations with the audience turned the stage into a friendly table down the pub and this will take her far, à la Adele. Flitting between accent attempts and Elvis impressions, then straight into a sombre song about divorce, there was a rollercoaster mishmash of tones that just didn’t seem to matter. Even her (first ever) encore of Man! I Feel Like a Woman was clumsy but endearing.
“I never get that!” was the singer’s shocked reaction to the cheers for Something American – yet it’s something she should get used to. She’s a real up-and-coming one to watch and you heard it here first.
Photos: Guifré de Peray
For further information and future events visit the Jade Bird website here.
Watch Jade Bird perform Cathedral on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert here: