Live at The Academy, Bournemouth

The night was all about big hair, and bigger voices. Ella Eyre graced Bournemouth’s O2 Academy on Wednesday 15 October on her first headline tour. Her name may not be instantly recognisable yet, having only recently released her own tracks but her voice and song writing have been featured on a few chart toppers you will know. The support acts were good, building a cold and somewhat damp crowd into a suitable frenzy for the main lady. First up was singer-songwriter, Joel Baker, who was joined on stage by a drummer and a bassist. He’s got a bit of cheeky chap about him and a reasonable voice. In fact he could be mistaken for an X Factor contestant except that he’s got some talent. Joel mixed a few of his own songs with a few well known covers including an acoustic version of Drake’s “Hold On”. The set was ruining slightly when he insisted on taking a photo of himself with a merch t-shirt and the crowd behind him. He’s young, he’ll learn. Making up for his lack of cool was Kimberly Anne, who was quite brilliant and was also sporting impressive gravity defying hair. Kimberly is well known on YouTube for her homemade video’s and Blue Peter attitude to creating and recording. It’s amazing what this girl can do with just a guitar, a loop pedal and a xylophone. She even managed to style out a loop pedal cock-up as intentional comedy. Bar that one minor fail, she was spot on. Playing mostly her own music, she introduced us to some of her tracks from her “Liars” EP and 2013’s “Bury it there” EP including the new single “Hard as Hello”.  She even got people singing “La la” despite it being unfamiliar to the audience. Smart, sharp lyrics worked well with a minimal arrangement and delivery that was a cross between Tracy Chapman and Jamie T, but in a good way of course. These original gems were backed up with a great acoustic cover of Robin S’ “Show me love”, slipping seamlessly into “A little bit of luck” by DJ Luck & MC Neat. If you are about for the Communion: New Faces tour please go, it will be worth the ticket. At this point I sometimes get concerned that the main act won’t live up to the support. Thankfully I was wrong. We’ve all heard the horror stories of bands and artists who record well, sound great on the radio but utterly fail to live up to their sound when live. On very rare occasions a recording artist will surpass all expectations by being infinitely better live.  Ella Eyre literally bounced onto the stage with a big sound and a flashy light show trumpeting the arrival of something pretty special. From the first song to the last the energy levels did not drop. She was leaping around to some of the up tempo tracks and still hitting every single note with a volume to match her hair. Even the audience were up and pogo-ing like bunch of Zebedees at a Magic Roundabout convention. Having not dressed appropriately for such activity, I did not partake of the jumping. It looked like fun though.   For the slower, ballad numbers Ella utilised the deeper, smokier end of her vocal register to superb effect. One of the numbers was a slow tempo version of Jermaine Stewart’s “We don’t have to take our clothes off” which sat comfortably with her better known tracks, “Deeper” and “If I go”. Rudimental’s “Waiting all night”, the track that brought her voice to the fore, got an outing and transitioned to a live band arrangement very well. It was hands in the air moment and was swiftly followed by another chart topper in the form of the Sigma hit, “Changes”. She actually penned the track, which features Paloma Faith doing the anthemic belting instead of Eyre. Why Paloma got to sing it I don’t know.  An encore was essential and required two tracks, “Home” an overly sentimental track about being homesick and the recent single “Comeback”. The last track had everyone yelling back, “Let the motherf*cker burn”. Got to love a multitasking track; cathartic and crowd-pleasing. By the end of the night, exhausted from the singing and jumping, myself and most of the audience were left in awe of this dynamo of energy and this big new voice.