I make my way through the bustling crowds and bright lights of Shaftesbury Avenue to Century social club. Tonight, in this charming venue, Phoebe Katis is performing and launching her new single ‘All Mine’ and she’s invited some talented friends along in support.
First up is George Pelham, a singer-songwriter who has had to borrow a guitar at the last minute after his, unfortunately, decided to break. Nevertheless, this doesn’t appear to phase his performance too much as he delivers the sharp and soulful ‘You’re Missing My Touch’. His songs follow the classic singer-songwriter theme about love and relationships, a safe source for inspiration but it’s the execution that counts. Pelham does well, aside from a few chord blunders on ‘Different Kind Of Love’, which, in fairness, he tells us he “only wrote last night”.
After ending his set with a Sam Smith-esque vocal on ‘Someone to Love Again’, Pelham exits the stage and after a short break it’s time for Chris Read to entertain us with some jazz/blues numbers.
Read opens with the funky and soulful ‘Faultlines’ from his 2016 LP, If I Knew. It becomes clear he’s comfortable in his genre, even if he is missing the rest of his band this evening. Chris uses his stage time well; while he performs some close-to-immaculate jazz and swing-oriented numbers like a professional crooner, he’s also entertaining in between. His relaxed nature on stage allows him to chat humorously with the crowd and joke during ‘Georgia’ when he mistakes a siren outside for a ‘whoop’ from the audience. This is a song he normally duets on with Phoebe and is a highlight of his set with a captivating rhythm and his unwavering vocals.
He plays through his entire set confidently. Other highlights include the smooth, soulful and poignant ‘To Hold For Brighter Days’ which he also wrote with Phoebe and the more uptempo ‘We Got Love’ which closes his set. An entertaining second warm up that has got the crowd settled in a ready for Phoebe.
During another break before the main event, I grab another drink at the bar that is a bit too small for tonight’s capacity crowd. When I get back to the sofa at the front where I’ve set up camp for the evening, I find I’m now joined by Phoebe Katis’ University entourage. A lovely group of ladies who are here to support their friend and witness the result of all of that piano practice that echoed around their University accommodation.
Phoebe plays two sets this evening, separated by a ten-minute break in between. Her first she plays the majority of with her fantastic band, including three beautiful backing singers. Combined with Katis’ impressive dynamic range they give us incredible vocal display. This begins with ‘Give It Up’, a song with an irresistible funk vibe made all the more special with the precise accents and harmony of the singers.
Katis performs with an unfaltering passion. A passion able to enhance the upbeat songs in her repertoire as well as the intimate and emotional ones. ‘Resentment’ is case in point – slower and slightly darker which adds contrast to her performance, she’s just as strong without her band in support.
She closes her first set with the song that’s brought us all here. ‘All Mine’ is a delightful single and captures what has made the whole performance so enjoyable so far; unrelenting vocal talent and great musicianship.
When Phoebe returns to the stage she performs alone on ‘No Good’. Just her and a piano, the strength of her voice is phenomenal. Later, she’s joined by one of her singers, Sarah, for a duet and Sam, a guitarist with whom she performed alongside at some festivals over the summer. They perform a beautiful version of ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ by Etta James which Katis says “fits with the music I’m making at the moment.”
She backs up this claim on her final song of the night after calls all around for an encore. Aptly titled ‘The Final Song’, she has never performed it live before. It’s incredibly emotional and brings out the Etta James-esque snarl within Phoebe. A fitting end to a night rich with undeniable talent and good vibes.
Following her final notes, Phoebe thanks us all after her set overwhelmed by disbelief at the milestone she’s reached. A milestone that’s certainly deserved.
By Will Hunt
George Pelham a nice introduction to the evening
Chris Read has a very entertaining stage persona to go with his music
Phoebe Katis performs two different sets of quality material
‘All Mine’ a very nice single
A backing band rich with vital talent that lifted Phoebe’s set
Connect with the artists