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Bull & Gate, London, 13 May 2008

Grace Solero is both the name of the startlingly theatrical vocalist as well as the name of a solid band that turned out to be an interesting proposition crossing genres as readily as their vocalist extended a melodic phrase into a banshee wail.

But first things first, Grace came on like an unreconstructed rock chick - think Vice Squad’s Beki Bondage - and sounded like a cross between Bjork and Kate Bush, pushing her voice to the limit.

Throw in a number of what Zappa used to call provocative squats and the obligatory throwing of several shapes to bring some additional angst to some interesting if at times over ambitious phrasing and you get the idea.

Grace Solero

In fairness each band member held down their respective parts assiduously, with guitarist Dan Beaulaurier in particular adding a subtle range of guitar parts, comprising a full array of different tones from The Edge style note repeats to some warped wah wah, which somehow complimented Grace’s vocal swoops.

The rhythm section in turn was muscular rather than cumbersome with bass player Steve Drennan underpinning the set with some fluid lines.

Best of all was when guitarist Beaulaurier also doubled on vocals on ‘Troops’, one of two of the set’s highlights. He added a hypnotic mantra like vocal line as Grace explored the full range of her vocal talent, evoking Bjork’s penchant for extending her vowels with a vocal flutter and almost using her voice as an instrument.

Grace Solero

Had the rest of the set been built on a similarly well crafted arrangement Grace might not have struggled a few times with her higher range. As it was, her on stage frisson and commitment just about pulled things off.

The set climaxed with the high energy and uncluttered ‘If You Feel’, a song that finally brought everything together rather nicely.

Grace Solero

Earlier on the unannounced South African quartet Sitter impressed with some straight for the throat anthemic stadium rock. This powerhouse of a band made light of their graveyard slot and rocked out as if at Wembley stadium, pausing only to thank the die-hards and the sound engineer in between a brief set that included the snappy pop rock of ‘Questions’ and their new single ‘Until the Music Runs Out’. Sitter combined combustible energy with fine playing and great hooks and obviously have an eye on fulfilling their apparent commercial potential.


Review by Pete Feenstra

Grace Solero interview (GRTR! Radio 22.04.08)

Album review


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