After first witnessing the talent of Riccy Mitchell a few weeks ago when he supported Mi’das at the iluvlive gig near Old Street, I was keen to see him perform at his own event. The opportunity has come tonight as he, along with a couple of impressive support acts, take to the stage in the intimate and attractive first-floor space of the Trafalgar Arms in Tooting.
Once I’ve purchased my drink from the bar and mingled with the artists and guests, it is fair to say that I am already very comfortable and enjoying the atmosphere as Jules Rendell walks up to the piano keyboard. Her set is a wonderful warm up, if a little brief with her time limited to performing only a medley of cover songs and the title track of her ‘Lotusbloom’ EP. A captivating performance it certainly is, especially with the inclusion of Prince’s ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’ and ‘Most Beautiful Girl In The World’ in the medley, but it’s far too short for her to spread her performing wings and fly. That said, she certainly delivers a warm and soulful vibe that sets the tone for the rest of the evening.
With light beginning to fade outside it is the turn of ex-footballer and birthday boy Gavin Holligan to entertain us by tinkling the ivories. He opens up his setlist to the floor ‘Do you want two originals or one cover and one original?’ His friends and fanbase want more than that but once again there is only time for two, so he follows Jules’ lead and does a medley of covers including John Legend’s ‘All Of Me’,Bill Withers’ ‘Just The Two Of Us’ and Bad Company’s ‘Feel Like Making Love’.
Holligan then performs an original; ‘Tribute to a Friend’ which he dedicates to Riccy. A touching song which caps off his performance nicely and combines with Jules’ set to ignite people’s enthusiasm. I take the opportunity after his set to ask him how his football career compares to his current path in music. ‘Oh I definitely prefer what I’m doing now, but then there’s no feeling quite like scoring a goal for your team’ he replies.
Riccy’s wife, Grace, introduces him to the stage. This is one of her many supportive roles this evening including managing tickets, operating some of the stage lighting and, of course, simple moral support for her husband.
Riccy walks up to the mic and, with the help of his band, raises the energy of the night. Mitchell is not only a great songwriter but is very passionate about how he delivers his material and it makes for a much more effective performance. His band sound very tight as well which is impressive considering bassist Theresa and drummer Mo have only be playing together with Riccy for just three months. More amazing still, pianist Jake has only been playing with them for two days.
The ‘Love Wars’ material goes down a treat and in this small space the songs prove to be very moving and powerful. ‘Bad Habit’ takes on new life in this room as does the slightly more emotional ‘Hold On’ which sees Grace looking on with a slight tearful eye as Riccy sings about looking out for your partner. His version of ‘Chasing Cars’ also fits the tone and mood of his own originals well.
Riccy closes the set with my personal favourite; ‘100’ which produces a level of invigorating energy in the room befitting a finale. As Riccy temporarily leaves the stage, the band play a few more bars to sign off the set before he proceeds to thank everyone for coming. He also gives due mention to Grace, Gavin, Jules and Sub Frantic studios who have provided this evening’s sound and lighting equipment, as well as the fantastic staff at the Trafalgar Arms.
Overall, this has been a wonderful heartfelt evening of good music, good humour and good company.
By Will Hunt
Good atmosphere in an attractive venue
Great support sets from Jules and Gavin
Gavin’s upcoming record will be called ‘The Inner Child’
Riccy delivers an energetic headline set
Riccy’s next EP to be called ‘Tales Of Freedom’
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