Exeter’s Cavern was the venue for an EP launch party for an immensely talented Exeter based pop/country singer songwriter called CLARA BOND who wowed her fanbase a few years ago with the release of her Out of Towners EP which invited a deluge of support slots from a-list performers such as Newton Faulkner, Joey Landreth and local favourites Wildwood Kin. She also took her band to perform at the Country 2 Country event that is hosted at London’s famous O2 (The Millenium Dome for those old enough to remember it called this…) which led to a nomination for ‘Female Vocalist of the Year’ in the British Country Music Awards. Through all of this, she was noticed by BBC2’s ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris, who invited her and the band to perform at his ‘Under the Apple Tree Sessions’.
Well, time has passed us by and Clara has been holed up in a studio writing new material which would form the basis of her new Crown EP which was the subject of tonight’s show at the Cavern.
Opening up for her was Exeter based vocal trio CLUB BROTHERS which consists of three incredible musicians, Leigh ‘Soul-Man’ Coleman, Adam ‘in the hat’ Moran and Richard James.
Each one of them brought something incredible to the party, Richard James’ tremendous guitar playing, Leigh Coleman’s silky smooth vocals and Adam Moran’s stupendously exquisite vocal harmonies blended together like a sumptuous sonic cocktail which certainly hit the spot!
Tracks lifted from their debut EP were performed including ‘Drifting’ and ‘Heart You Hold’. I loved the audience participation and of course, Leigh Coleman’s human trumpet impression which sounded rather spookily like, a trumpet, incredible stuff indeed!
Newquay’s DAISY CLARK is no stranger to performing live and supported Clara Bond in London at a recent event. She played a stunning set of acoustic songs including a tremendous version of Avril Lavigne’s ‘Complicated’ which, I thought gave the original a bloody good run for its money! Her vocals ranged from angelic, floaty and almost ethereal to strong and commanding where required and really made her stand out from other solo acoustic performers I have seen in the past.
She performed mainly her own compositions including ‘Bad Manners’ which was about a particular ‘bad apple’ she met in the music industry (no names mentioned!) and ‘Make Your Momma So Proud’ which she usually performs as a duo with her close friend Mog Jones who wasn’t able to be there tonight so left Daisy to pick up both roles by herself (which she did effortlessly!)
Daisy is an artist you need to check out, she’s a confident, super talented young lady who delivered her set perfectly despite suffering a battery malfunction midway through the set! Check out her work at ‘Daisy Clark Music’ on all social media channels.
After watching Club Brothers and Daisy Clark perform, I was concerned that Clara Bond and her band would have been somewhat overshadowed, it’s certainly not the first time I’ve seen this happen but knowing Clara as I do, I knew that she’d have something up her sleeve ready to knock the socks off everyone in the room.
Opening with ‘Out of Towners’, she kicked her set off in style and it wasn’t long until the room was in sync with Clara and the band. ‘Does Your Girlfriend Know You’re Single’ was full of funk and sass and dare I say it, the perfect 3 minute pop song?
‘Tambourine’ is one of my all-time Clara tracks and took me back a few years but it still sounded as great as it did the very first time I heard it.
‘Pink Wine’ lifted from the new EP sounded even better live than it does on the CD and with Ollie Harris providing some of the finest guitar playing I have heard in a long time, she’s clearly onto a winner! Clara added that the streams for this track alone have already surpassed the entire Out of Towners EP on Spotify, some achievement seeing as the track has only recently been released!
Covers of ‘I’m on Fire’ by Springsteen and ‘Simply the Best’ by Tina Turner revved the crowd into a frenzy as the roller coaster settled somewhat whilst she performed ‘Flashback’ which she described as “quite possibly the saddest track she has ever written”.
Clara worked the room perfectly throughout the set, amusing quips between her and Ollie (guitar) kept the mood light and it was a nice touch to see her spending time to introduce each band member, allowing them to perform a smooth, jazzy interlude, showcasing their skills (my god that Ollie Harris can sure play guitar!)
The Cavern doesn’t really allow for ‘encores’ as there is nowhere to hide for those precious 2 minutes between leaving and taking to the stage once again so with the slow sad number ticked off the list, she introduced the title track from the Crown EP as her “Fuck You song” and dedicated it to the ‘douchebag’ industry executive who made a bucket load of false promises to her, even arranging a show that took hours to get to which hadn’t even been booked. The track was full of feisty lyrics, the energy was immense, a far cry from her usual trademark country pop tones.
And then, after 45 minutes, it was all over, the audience were overjoyed at what they had witnessed, three incredible acts on the same bill and of course, the chance to see Clara Bond with her full band doing what they do so well!
The Crown EP is available to stream/buy right now, keep your eyes on Clara Bond’s social media for news of future live shows, you don’t want to miss her!
Words - Steve Muscutt
Pictures - Rhodri Cooper