On Friday I went on what can only be described as an adventure. I battled other people’s motorway accidents as well as my own inability to find a parking space among other things as I made my way to Soundcontrol in Manchester. Now normally I would have been annoyed at travelling for all of those miles in rubbish weather and even worse traffic but not Friday night. Friday was different, it was still work but it was work for a good cause.
You might remember back in October I reviewed a track from Jenny Hepton called Wait For You. The track was written for her daughter Jayla who had to undergo serious heart surgery when she was only 12 weeks old. I loved the song and more importantly I loved the story behind it. (You can read more in my original review here) Following on from that I was given the chance to attend the official launch gig for the single on Friday and of course as soon as the opportunity came up there was no way that I wasn’t going to go.
Over here at The Musical Outcast I’m not massively big on convention so I have to say that I liked the fact that Hepton’s set would be split into two parts. The first half was going to be fully solo, one woman and her keyboard style, and the second half would be performed with a full band that I later discovered were Massey Green.
As soon as the first note hit on the first song Waiting On Tomorrow Hepton had the audience in the palm of her hand. It’s not very often that I have seen a room brought to complete silence by one song. The vocal immediately stood up live and as the song came to its conclusion applause filled the room and you just knew that this was going to be a good performance. After a quick joke with the audience we were treated to a medley of covers including a stripped down splash of the Avicii and Aloe Blacc hit Wake Me Up.
Soon the pace dropped right back down to a crawl with an incredibly emotive rendition of This I Promise To You. At this point there was still no band for Hepton to lean on so for someone with so little performing experience (She has performed only a handful of solo gigs previously) the way that she held the audience was very impressive. The pace quickened slightly for the penultimate solo song of the night the beautifully understated There For You before sliding into Broken. This brought to an end what had been a very impression first half of the performance. It was slick and polished but there was also a brilliant human and personal touch which made you buy into the songs that little bit more. For me if you’re going to be successful as this kind of solo artist then having this skill is absolutely essential.
Before the full band made their way to the stage guitarist James joined the fray to partner Hepton in performing a song called Trying Hard. I have to say that I really liked the blend between the male and female vocal here, it just gave the song that little something extra. The voices of the two protagonists complimented each other extremely well. It was a short lived duet however as the rest of the band arrived on stage and the tempo of the night changed completely. Dear Willow is a fantastic little tune and was easily one of the highlights of the entire night. It’s up-tempo with a gloriously old school feel and brought a smile to the face of everyone in the room.
For the final three tracks the pace dropped right back down once more, initially for ballad Without You which pulled the audience right in as the band amped up the emotion with a delicate melody which perfectly complimented the main vocal. The penultimate track was an impressive cover of the only Elbow song that I actually like One Day Like This. (I’m sentimental like that) It was interesting to hear the song with a female vocal and Hepton and the band easily did the song justice.
The curtain was brought down on the night with a reminder of why we were all there, a fine, fine performance of the single Wait For You. It was a fitting way to end what had been a brilliant night.
The really important point to make here is that while yes Jenny Hepton’s story and the story of her family is quite a remarkable one, there is plenty more to her than that. She is undoubtedly a very talented performer in her own right; the lady can sing! There is no question about that trust me. On the night she was fantastic, Massey Green were fantastic and it was genuinely a privilege to be there. Friday night was a special night for the Hepton family for so many reasons, and I have a feeling that there will be many more special nights to come.