Emma Stevens @ The Boileroom (28.03.14)
Local favourite, Emma Stevens charmed the large crowd at the Boileroom on Friday night with her catchy pop-folk tunes and signature smile. The Guildford born singer was playing in her home town as part of her ‘Enchanted’ tour which has seen her headline the billing for the first time in her young career.
Her first studio album, also entitled ‘Enchanted’ has had some mainstream success with her most recognisable single, ‘Riptide’ featuring on the iTunes Single of the Week back in October 2013 which then achieved in excess of 150,000 downloads. In addition to that, Emma has featured on both BBC Radio 2’s Weekend Wogan and The Chris Evans Breakfast Show, also on BBC Radio 2. The support that she has received from these highly acclaimed Radio DJ’s has been pivotal to her rise in success, gaining critical air play and support.
On the night, Stevens took to the stage with a beaming smile that didn’t rescind all evening and her polite and friendly demeanour meant the crowd instantly warmed to her. Throughout the show, she interacted with the audience casually, pointing out her sister and talking in between songs. She spoke about having a cup of tea upstairs before the show because she isn’t very rock ‘n’ roll and was continually larking around on stage with best pal and guitarist Sam Whiting.
This, partnered with her upbeat, uplifting tunes meant that there was a real positive vibe in the room as she rattled through performances of ‘Sunflower’, ‘A Place Called You’, ‘Once’ and of course ‘Riptide’ with consummate ease. The ACM graduate gave a master class in live performance as members of the crowd were found grinning, singing, humming and foot-tapping as everyone clearly enjoyed their night.
Emma is a very talented, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist that has all of the potential to go to the very top of the business. She is technically gifted with an endearing personality and a killer smile, but is also clearly still very grounded. After her performance, the headliner was seen talking to people in the crowd, thanking them for coming and giving out hugs like they were EP’s. We certainly hope that she is seen on the Guildford stage again soon!
REVIEW: Monday, 31 March 2014
Emma Stevens (Enchanted Live)
Earlier this week, I was privileged to see Emma Stevens and her band in her first ever headline concert sharing her lovely songs from her album “Enchanted”. It was such a coincidence I happened upon her music online only the previous weekend, then found out the next day she was performing live at The Portland Arms in Cambridge, a venue so close yet I’d never been before, at the corner between Victoria & Milton Road. She was supported beforehand by an up-and-coming Cambridge talent, fresh from his travels around Australia.
There was a really good turn-out and Emma gave a splendid performance. Her beautiful songs and generous spirit left everyone smiling. I had been drawn to her in the first place by her voice and thoughtful lyrics, so it was especially good to hear them brought alive by her presence. In the age of music reduced to a commodity, and the commodity reduced to digital data, there is a huge corresponding demand for a return to the experience. For some, this is the desire of “coming together” and “being there”, but even more than this for me I think is the lovely change to go back to music in its original being, and “being present”. There is however also added excitement in the creation of a memory, and this is what moves me in this blog to re-create it.
Opening with the song “Once”, Emma expresses cynicism at the Disney lie “you only need to find love once”, only then – in finding love – to feel she must re-affirm it. Her most moving song is no doubt “Sunflower”, in which she remembers some of the little things her mother taught her. It was especially good to hear this live. My favourite song from the album was her fairytale love song “A Place Called You”. (The album also has a very pretty fairytale look.) Other highlights included the popping “Riptide”, the chilled-out loving “Lazy” and the upbeat post-holiday “Hey Summer”. Overall her music captures that post-holiday mood of memory of good times in the past, moving through sad moments, upbeat & hopeful, open to love & light in the present & future.
Other memorable episodes of the night included (1) the band putting on sparkly hats for one of the songs, (2) a minor blip in which Emma thought her song “It’s Obvious” had obviously gone wrong when for the audience it seemed fine (reminding me of Jai-Jagdeesh’s advice “if you hit a wrong note smile and keep on singing”, but also this made me think how the difference between someone like Emma who loves what they do and the cold professional is the first will genuinely smile, learn from the mistake and come back stronger), and (3) when the bassist was picking up feedback of another song between sets, it seemed to be “Good Vibrations” (how serendipitous to be picking up good vibrations!). These were all like happy unveilings.
By a complete coincidence, this concert, the first of Emma’s “Enchanted Tour”, fell on the second anniversary of her mother passing away. This letting go from the tree of life leaves offspring, friends and relatives behind, who one day will also have to let go in their own way. And though this moment is a sad one, it is also in the imagination of a story that Emma’s sister wrote about the last leaf of autumn, a reaching for the stars in flight, a re-entry into the soil of existence, a new beginning. Without endings, there could be no beginnings. Accompanying the crunch and decay, new dawns await. We wish for Emma and her band that this be the beginning of a long and wonderful adventure on her journey of enchantment, and for many happy journeys to come. “Enchanted”, the name of her album, is an old word via French from Latin, from in-cantare meaning “to sing or cast a spell upon”. The magic therein is a blessing! May love light her way. And yours too!