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FIFTY3 FRIDAYS: LIVE AT THE OTHER PALACE

A short hop from Buckingham Palace lies The Other Palace Theatre, the venue for an intimate performance last Friday evening by native Liverpudlian and latterly Bristol-based singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and storyteller, Hannah Rose Platt. Continuing the royal thread, Hannah has been dubbed the Queen of Horror through her fascination for myths, legends and macabre storytelling. The Other Palace has a history of its own; for over 150 years since 1766 the Charlotte Chapel was sited here. After conversion to a cinema in 1924, it went on to host theatres under an array of names until it was ultimately razed by fire in 2002. The present building has traded as The Other Palace since 2017 housing a main theatre and a smaller studio space.


The theatre has a mission to develop the next generation of theatre-makers but also nurtures new music in the cosily informal studio where tonight’s show was held. With chairs virtually butting up to the stage on two sides, front rowers found themselves remarkably close to the band while the airy mezzanine floor above allowed further seating to counter any hint of claustrophobia. The lady in front of me had readied her ear plugs but had no need to worry. The whole evening was a textbook exercise in how to present amplified music in a compact space, sound balanced to perfection.


All photos of Gene Morrissey and Hannah Rose Platt at The Other Palace by Kevin England


Opening the show was Gene Morrissey, a 19 year-old singer-songwriter who last summer celebrated the release of his debut EP, Wrong Shade Of Green. Armed with a vintage looking Gibson Sunburst acoustic guitar and a natural baritone voice, his deep vocal register immediately lent the youthful troubadour a point of difference to many of his contemporaries. His five-song set seemed also to nod to past masters – Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake in part – rather than current folk acts, although his final extended song, “Crucify Yourself” I felt had a hint of Jake Bugg about it.

 

Gene’s voice will mature with age and his guitar style will develop beyond a strident strum but on first listening his songwriting glows with promise. I particularly liked his second on the night, "Think I’m In Love (Again)”, which juxtaposed everyday observations with the emotive rollercoaster of falling for someone. There is a charm to Gene Morrissey that the audience seemed to pick up on and his set was warmly received. Hopefully you will get some of this from this version of the song from Gene’s YouTube channel.



A theatre seemed an appropriate space for Hannah Rose Platt to ply her grizzly and ghostly tales. The theatricality of her characters aided by some compelling backdrop animations and graphics was given full airing as the songstress performed the whole of her exceptional 2023 third album, Deathbed Confessions, followed by her eerie Scandi folklore-informed EP, Hypnagogia, released in October last year. Taking the compact stage in a comely Morticia Addams-inspired black gown and gold ankle boots, her shock of ice blonde hair and floral-decked mic stand provided softer contrasts. Leading her fine 3-piece band, comprising Daniel Barry on guitar, Tim Hillsdon on drums and her partner and bassist Freddie Draper, Hannah eased into a faithful version of her opening song “Dead Man on the G Train”, a tale of murder and deception set in 1930’s New York. The crescendo of bass, drums and squalls of electric guitar as the story’s murderess gains revenge and walks free iced a suitably dramatic twist.

Hannah’s vocal ability to take on the character of the song was equally present in the next two songs – the liltingly melodic “Hedy Lamarr” and the unnerving “Home for Wayward Dolls” while Freddie showed his elastic skills switching to double bass, both bowed and plucked. She brought Gene Morrissey back on stage to take the part of the album’s producer, Ed Harcourt, for the stirring duet on the salty doom-laden tale of “The Mermaid & The Sailor”. I liked the little touch of Daniel’s guitar echoing the ahs before Gene’s verse.

12-bar walking bass and Hannah’s megaphone verses enlivened the monstrous “Wendigo Rag” while “The Kissing Room” saw Freddie ably transposing the keyboard part to reproduce on bass. The bass harmonics were a nice touch here while Hannah’s caressing vocal on the song, celebrating the room at New York’s Grand Central Station used to keep couples’ displays of affection away from the public gaze, was tear-jerking perfection. Drums propelled “The Gentleman”, an uptempo ode to the mysterious benevolent titular spirit who comes to people’s aid in seemingly mundane, everyday ways. The subtle contrast this song offers to many of the darker tales tonight truly hit the spot live.

Inspired by the dance scene in Frida, the biopic of artist Frida Kahlo, “Tango With Your Fear” added some smoky drama while the penultimate song, “Feeding Time For Monsters” was a true high point of a consistently great set. From the magnificent instrumental intro which carried echoes of Pink Floyd to Hannah’s siren-like vocal, her brilliant blue electric guitar and the superb accompanying animated video, this song saw the whole ensemble reach a peak of intensity. This was the loudest of the evening yet the sound balance was so good that the vocal, guitars, bass and drums worked in perfect synergy.

The album’s closer, “For The Living, For The Lost” with the piano part cleverly transposed to Hannah's guitar, provided a come down moment; a chance to reflect on the turmoil unleashed via the foregoing characters and stories and progress to a phase of moving on from dark shadows to something brighter. But we were not done yet! There were the four songs comprising Hypnagogia to come, linked by spoken-word interludes narrated by leading British actor David Morrissey, who was in tonight’s audience with his family including his support act son! The songs were directly inspired by the ghost stories and folklore of each city stopover on her Scandinavian tour with Frank Turner. Live tonight, each one shone with imagination and verve.

The tale of a nightmare demoness, “Mara”, had great energy to it with bass and guitar in unison underpinning the desire to escape the horrors hemmed in by dreams while Hannah’s vocal switched from shimmering menace to righteous pleading. The Danish monster of “Beast In The Water” saw Daniel plying some unusual guitar effects against Hannah’s breathy vocal rising to crescendos. The doo-wop style “Date Night” saw the Finnish goddess of death on a night on the town, as darkly rich and frightening as it was conceptually comic; maybe a new genre is here – Country & Intestine? The highlight of a rich seam for me was the final song of the four; “Blue Lights” delivered by Hannah’s spellbinding solo vocal against a chiming, pulsating soundscape. Those petrifying illuminations which lure loved ones into the forest never seemed so real or so brilliantly voiced.

An enraptured audience demanded more and Hannah duly obliged with a tender solo encore of “1954”, a song she wrote when in Liverpool inspired by a story of working in a care home in which the central character imagines her late husband coming for to pick her up for a date. It was an emotive conclusion to an evening of great highs and a fittingly human seal on a parade of otherworldly vignettes.


For a guide to the wonders of Deathbed Confessions, you can read Hannah's track-by-track reflections here. Check out the album plus Hypnagogia EP on Spotify and all major platforms.








Comments


FIFTY3 champions

outstanding new music

through Fifty3 Fridays and

occasional features 

 

Music is a great passion of mine. In my teenage years I was an avid record collector and concert goer. Stints as a booking agent, running folk clubs, promoting gigs and even a crack at artiste management followed. While it never became my main occupation, music was always on my personal radar.

 

In the past 15 years I have written for leading US music website  Consequence and breakthrough  site, BestNewBands. I am a judge for Glastonbury Festival's Emerging Talent Competition and have reviewed the festival for both sites. I am now pleased to curate my very own music site.

 

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than unearthing great, original new music and championing independent musicians. You’ll find many of them on this site alongside the occasional legend of times past and I hope they will bring  you as much joy as they give me.

Tony Hardy

UPCOMING GIGS 

 

Selected dates in the London area:

Tue 16 July: Griff, St John's Church, Kingston upon Thames

Wed 17 Jul: Squirrel Flower, The Lexington, London N1

Tue 23 July: Sabina Chantouria, The Bedford, Balham, London SW!`2

Wed 24 Jul: Coming Up Roses, The Social, London W1

Thu 1 Aug: 86TVs, St John's Church, Kingston upon Thames

banquetrecords.com: See the Events page for all live shows in Kingston

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