The act: Charlotte Church
The venue: Sound Control, Manchester
Why? : Charlotte Church is back. Yes, again. Since leaving the world of Classical-crossover to the likes of Katherine Jenkins it’s been an interesting ride for the former “voice of an angel”. Her Pop effort Tissues and Issues was solid, although you sometimes felt that her heart wasn’t quite in it. Back to Scratch, her 2010 release was an absolutely stunning Folk-Pop record that the likes of Nerina Pallot would’ve been proud of, but didn’t get the large-scale release her comeback deserved. This time around she’s keeping it more low-key with lots of touring at small venues which complements the “band” feel of the material from her upcoming 5 EPS.
The music: All new. No ‘Crazy Chick’ and certainly no bloody ‘Pie Jesu’. While it would’ve been nice to hear some of the songs from Back to Scratch they wouldn’t have worked with her newer, noisier material. Opening with recent free download ‘The Rise’, it took a few minutes to adjust to such a clear and powerful voice. That’s not to say on angrier songs like ‘Judge from Afar’, directed as a response to faceless poisonous comments at her from the Daily Mail website she lacked the necessary emotional punch. The best performance had to be the wonderfully-titled ‘How Not To Be Surprised When You’re a Ghost’ (see below).
The banter: As a woman who used to have her own chat show, Charlotte’s crowd-natter was predictably witty, playful and self-deprecating. Nobody else could get away with ladling spoons of honey throughout a gig to keep her voice going quite as funnily as her.
The crowd: An interesting mix of indie singer-songwriter act fans that Charl’s trying to convert and Classical afficionados trying to fulfill some morbid curiosity of seeing what’s happened to their former-idol; “The venues keep getting smaller”, sniffed an imperious old lady. The Prize Twat award however goes to the hyperactive boy-girl duo wearing merchandise tshirts who waved their hands and wooped loudly throughout, killing the atmosphere of at least two songs.
Any surprises? ‘Mr. The News’, a funky little number about Rupert Murdoch which she wrote around the time that she gave evidence at the Leveson Inquiry. It was dedicated to Rebekah Brooks with a vengeful smile.
The question you all want to ask: Where does all this leave Charlotte Church as a musician?
The answer: The answer is a lot more simple than you might think; she’s writing and releasing her own material, not financially dependent on a big record label and having a thoroughly fun time of it. Musicians DREAM of this.