We’re told by our host, Loretta, that we’re in for a great performance tonight. Each time she takes to the stage to introduce each act and then sign them off, encouraging us to clap and cheer, she reminds us of Bianca’s journey. For a long time, Bianca stopped making music during a difficult time in her life. Everyone around her is incredibly supportive of her return and her new No Fear Here project. I just hope that the message isn’t lost in the constant reminder of why we’re here.
Kat Deal and her band are the first to entertain us with some soulful originals and her version of ‘Say You’ll Be There’. Her soulful take on the Spice Girls hit was a nice twist on the original. “I don’t normally do covers” she says, so it’s nice that she’s giving us something a bit different. Her original songs go down well, including new single ‘Staring Back at Me’ which she delivers, like the rest of her set, with remarkable fervour. She also has fantastic support from her band, in the form of bass, drums, keyboard and backing vocals. This is something missing from Femi Temowo’s performance.
Femi is a jazz guitarist with intricate finger-picking skill and a knack for using pedals to full effect. However, where the use of pedals, particularly a looper, slightly falters is when the artist has to sort out the finer details of the pedal functions. While this is going on the same loop plays over and over and suddenly the performance feels stunted. Mind you, it’s only a minor setback for Femi who displays impressive skill on the guitar while singing in the Nigerian language of Yoruba. It’s another short a sweet support set but lacks the energy that Kat displayed just moments before. His musicianship is fantastic but I feel like Kat was a better set up for tonight’s headline act.
Bianca bookends her set with the title track ‘No Fear Here’ which is a fitting open and close to her performance. Conscious of her limited time on stage this evening (there’s another gig happening straight after this one), she moves swiftly onto single ‘You’re Beautiful’ which receives “whoops” of encouragement from her friends and fans.
The inspiration behind No Fear Here centres around her time away from music and emerging out and into the spotlight again. This means the songs centre around this theme and her explanations of them all seem rather similar. ‘Wallpaper Painting’ is about having dreams come true, ‘Eagles is about “being scared but learning to fly”, while highlight ‘The Promise’ is inspired by the old chestnut of hope. ‘The Promise’ sees cellist Joanne join Bianca and Femi on stage while the rest of her band leave temporarily. I love the added texture of the cello on this song; it’s deep and moving which corresponds with the subject matter.
Bianca gives us her own heartfelt rendition of Louis Armstrong’s ‘What A Wonderful World’, but it’s not a shade on the original and I’ve witnessed other artists’ versions that I’ve preferred. However, I admire her for taking on such a classic.
Overall, Bianca can be proud of the support she’s garnered and the belief in herself to get her where she’s meant to be; creating and performing her music.
Kat and Femi would have been more effective by swapping places
A good turnout in support of Bianca’s new project
New material is strong but centres around similar inspiration
Bianca’s band work well together
Cellist Joanne adds beautiful texture to ‘The Promise’
Connect with the artists