Words: Eve Sales
The iconic Soup Kitchen basement hosts a variety of events from club nights to comedy shows but intimate gigs are where the dingy walls and low ceilings really come into their own. Tonight, Eleanor Nelly and Rhys Lewis play to a small crowd that easily fill the room.
Eleanor Nelly steps out with just a guitar and a strong Scouse twang that is unrecognisable from the strong soothing voice she showcases in her half hour opening set. Between songs she is timid but manages to capture the whole room with self-proclaimed ‘depressing’ acoustic ballads. She weaves between finger picking and strong accented chords that frame her vocals perfectly. The lights reflect on her face, ensuring that she is the centre of attention and keeps the room transfixed. Highlights of her set include closing ‘Front Row’, a tear-jerking tribute to her mother who follows her around on tour and ‘Choke’, influenced by missing family members whilst being away. A blues and country inspiration is revealed by stories of writing with cowboys in Nashville, and Nelly definitely leaves a lasting impression on the room.
The main act of the night, Rhys Lewis begins with ‘I Know The Feeling’, an upbeat reflection on the struggles of modern life and follows with ‘Living In The City’. This echoes the feeling of wanting to be seen from a crowd and to break free. The backing band that Lewis surrounds himself with consists of a bass, keyboardist and drums, who together create a perfect bluesy-pop sound. Rhys’ vocal range is the most impressive aspect of his show with every song having both smooth falsetto moving down to raspy baritone that contrast with each other perfectly. His lyrics are catchy without being repetitive and the crowd is soon moving along transfixed with every word.
The truly show stopping moment of the set is ‘Be Your Man’ half way through which is performed simply by Lewis and his keyboard player. Lewis’ voice trembles perfectly on each note and forces emotion through the lyrics, really portraying heart break that was felt by all in attendance. Although his personality presents as shy and retiring, Lewis’ voice breaks all previous impressions and his performance creates an extraordinary atmosphere amongst those in attendance. Towards the end of the set, he is rejoined by his band for some of his most well known songs including ‘Wish I Was Sober’ and the encore ‘Things You Can’t Change’, both of which include some form of crowd participation leaving everyone feeling thoroughly satisfied with the set.
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