Hannah Rose Platt might be exiled in the south these days, but you can’t take the north totally out of the Liverpool lady: “it’s good to be away from London,” she smiles as she begins her wonderful set this evening. Character based tales are the order of the day with Platt, and she is superb at them. From “Dancer” about a waitress in her favourite Crystal Palace restaurant, to the standout “Brooklyn” written from the perspective of an Irishman who helped build New York in the late 19th century, this is not your normal singer/songwriter. Her lovely voice, though, is adept at playing songs steeped in the modern age, “Black Smoke”, an expression of anger at the Weinstein affair, and the heart-wrenching “Sorry” about awful domestic abuse, are perhaps more personal and certainly have an edge. With Thomas Collison – who has worked with many including Don Gelardo – on all kinds of instruments, her 45 minutes is one to treasure. “When Audrey Came To Call” – with Collison on piano, is another strand to things, “Chanel And Cigarettes” is a ghost story written by Platt as a girl turned into a song and there is an old-time feel to the end with the traditional “Hello Central, Give Me Heaven”, which, if not the end you might have expected, is delivered with skill and a clear love for the song.
Amelia White has been on tour six weeks and is in wind-down mode now. “Think of this as a gig in your living room” offers the Nashville native, and there is a tremendous, convivial warmth about her as she plays. She too is backed by Collison, but also Scott Warman on bass, who did the same for Annie Keating in this room last year, and the three of them share a bond that obviously extends beyond the musical connection. Not least because White accidentally nearly burned down Warman’s Brighton home the other day, but rather less scarily there are also a couple of moments that are clearly improvised here and the band have the skill to pull it off.
After “How Far Is Down” – and there is something about an harmonica and an acoustic that gets me every time – there is the first of a few tracks from last years “Rhythm Of The Rain” album. “Supernova” has a brilliant solo from Collison, “Little Cloud” – one of its finest songs – and the title track show how good it was, but it is another of her new songs that really seems to sum this evening up.
“Free Advice” not only comes in with a more rock n roll strut than you might think, it is also a pretty vicious condemnation of those that try to change a woman’s appearance to make her sell more records. That lack of individuality isn’t something that either White or Platt need to worry about – and music like this doesn’t get made anyway if it’s not from the heart.
Warman duets on “Pink Cloud” while “Like A King” – another of “….Rain’s” finest moments benefit from some excellent keyboard, and “Sinking Sun” sees Platt join in for harmonies.
It’s not really the sort of night for encores, that said there is some riotous fun on “Get Your Cowboy On” before White unplugs and goes solo for a lullaby. It is a lovely – and really there is no better word – end to an evening that deserved to end like that.
The dark nature of the songs of both women was juxtaposed by the smiles throughout, and as White said herself: “I come on tour to stay happy”. It is a good job, then, that she very obviously belongs on the road.