People often forget how big an impact a venue can have on a show. Because of this, it’s probably worth spilling a little ink in praise of the Norwegian Church before even mentioning the artists who performed. The venue was airy and beautifully lit – transforming constantly as the sun set over the Cardiff Bay. In such a stunning setting, is it possible not to enjoy an evening’s musical entertainment?
Despite my inclination to wax lyrical about Cardiff’s most scenic venue, I was sent there with the express purpose of reviewing an acoustic show by young Pembrokeshire based singer-songwriter Jodie Marie. Support came from Cardiff based singer-songwriter Ffred Jones, whose impressive guitar playing and subtle vocal stylings complemented Marie’s well, yet also provided sufficient contrast; presenting an edgier, somewhat more nuanced sound. Marie, backed by acoustic guitar and percussion, is currently on tour promoting her new album. Mountain Echo is a well thought-out collection of soul and country-inspired pop songs that conjure up thoughts of long summer days with its rich, arrangements and vintage sound.
Marie’s voice was without doubt the highlight of her Friday night show. Many of her songs, in particular the Duffy-esque ‘I Got You’, the simple yet enchanting ‘Greeney Blue’, and the impassioned, laid back single ‘On the Road’, revealed an impressive vocal style and subtle musicality. However, weaker album tracks suffered from the stripped down, acoustic arrangements presented on the night; without the dense instrumentation used on Mountain Echo, many of them came across as overly simplistic, with weaker lyrical, musical, and structural content brought to the fore. Marie ended her set to rapt applause, and saw her audience off with a soulful rendition of Randy Newman’s ‘Guilty’.
In all, the performance was a good one, and doubtless Marie’s shows will improve as she develops as an artist. The audience, evidently familiar with Marie’s material, were thoroughly appreciative. I’m sure that both Marie and Jones were pleased with two competent performances in one of the loveliest settings in Cardiff. PH