In this one-off show, Andi Neate’s band was small and intimate. She had short, friendly exchanges with her double-bassist and her backing singer, both of whom were happy to let her take the limelight. She told us that this was her last gig in the UK: ‘On Sunday I’m emigrating to the Falkland Islands. It’s a bit random, isn’t it?’ Despite her apparent nonchalance, she teared up later on in the gig, a more touching moment than it might sound.
The music itself spoke volumes about Neate’s experience of performing live: she was completely at ease. The Jazz Bar’s cosy interior provided the perfect atmosphere for her relaxed, folky set which saw her perform lilting melodies and rough, bluesy numbers. Her unashamed use of natural imagery in some songs was explained when she said that half her album ‘Flying Full Circle’ was written in the Falkland Islands. The calm ‘Albatross’ changed tempo freely, while ‘Charlie’ contained some truly brilliant scatting. However, from a songwriter of this calibre, a predictable, X Factor-style key change in ‘Gone But Not Forgotten’ was just disappointing.
The instrumentation was sparse but effective. Neate’s guitar was supported by Paul Gilbody’s double bass, an instrument which usually goes unheard in such sets because of poor amplification. Here, the bass provided a strong foundation for Neate whilst also having harmonies of its own. There was some particularly enjoyable interaction between the double bass and guitar parts during ‘Tales from the Circus’.
Neate’s backing singer gave grounding to her vocals but kept out of the way. She seemed out of place during the instrumental sections but the friendly atmosphere prevented this from being a problem. Neate’s voice itself was mainly pitch-perfect, although a few overloud high notes grated slightly. For the final song, instruments were set aside as the trio sang a cappella in harmony. Neate thanked us all for coming along to the gig. A final hug between the three performers was a sweet end to a show that had felt close-knit and warm. As I left, I overheard one audience member say, ‘I’m going to miss her’. He didn’t seem to be the only one.