Somerset House Series provides ten days of musical highlights

Somerset House Series 2011 review

By Richie Soans | Published: Mon 25th Jul 2011

Somerset House Series 2011 - Hurts
Photo credit: Richie Soans

Somerset House Series 2011

Thursday 7th to Sunday 17th July 2011
Somerset House, The Strand, London, WC1 1LA, England MAP
from £20 to £35 per day depending on the event

Say goodbye to boring nights, well that was the case for the ten days out of the eleven days that I covered the Somerset House Series of concerts, which had a mixture of genre of music from rock, indie rock, rap, folk and soul artists and bands play in a courtyard, known for its fountains in warmer weather and ice rink in the winter

Jesca Hoop kicked off the series with her short set of songs. Eels followed her, looking more like the American version of Chas and Dave with most of the musicians, including the lead singer known as E. Their version of indie rock reverberated around the tight courtyard of Somerset House. Eels played Novacaine for the Soul as well as others songs. E also introduced his musicians in the band which after the short intro, had them playing a short solo of them playing their instrument, culminating after all had been formally named in a longer jam of just instruments being played. They also teased their fans with two encores, the first which had four songs.

Professor Green
Day 2 included two DJ sets from Mistajam and a set from TV's Any Dream Will Do. Professor Green then stormed the stage, jumping and moving around a lot in the beginning. He performed “I Need you tonight” with Ed Drewett. At the finishing stages of his set, solo artist in her own rights Emeli Sande came to collaborate with a song that they sang as a duet.

Day 3 saw John Kennedy from XFM introduce firstly Cloud Control, an indie rock band from Australia, then Stornoway, a folk band who played with an orchestra towards the end of the gig. They also like the others that preceded them, played new material from their upcoming album.

Aloe Blacc
The next day, saw six different acts appear on the stage, three from the What's Next acts (Ruby Blu, Franklin's Secret, Bartoven and Debbie) appear with short sets for the crowds that were beginning to crawl into the makeshift concert hall. After the What's Next, appeared Jessica. Following her came Dionne Bromfield, a 15 year old from London, and amongst the other songs that she sang was her version of 'Mama Said'. Aloe Blacc appeared next with his soul and r'n'b, performing moves similar to the moonwalk. Like Eels on day 1, he introduced the crowds to his backing musicians.

Big Boy Bloater opened Monday's series of gigs, supporting Imelda May, bringing the Dark Blues, playing a Fender guitar and wearing a white hat, with the stage swathed in blue lighting. Though the songs were unfamiliar to me, I did think he put in a good performance, one to notice for the future. Imelda May came on stage with her usual dyed blonde trademark quiff, along with a guitarist who plays what resembles a 1950s Gibson guitar, and a Double Bass player including drummer. Imelda's set included new songs 'Gipsy and Roadrunner' along with the song that set her to fame, 'Johnny Got a Boom Boom'. Her encore consisted of two cover songs, 'Tainted Love' and 'It's all Right, Mama'.

Miles Kane
Tuesday had support act Miles Kane performing his set. Beady Eye came on with Liam’s usual swagger and holding on his scarf in the right hand. Liam was singing into microphone with the usual trademark stance as he has always done. They performed their current single 'Millionaire', amongst others.

Friends Electric provided support for Blondie, a quartet with syth, guitar, bass and drums. Blondie came on next performing hits from the Eighties, like 'Dreaming' and others.

Gaggle filled the stage with a choir of twenty women singers, yes, I counted all of them. With the conductor perched near the crowd control barrier and wavy arms conducting, just like an orchestra. Saint Saviour lead singer dancing and singing more like Kate Bush, waving arms in an ethereal fashion, with her loose dress which seemed to fill the stage more than the act that appeared before her.

Hurts appeared what I can only describe as flag waving female 'monks' Dressed formally for the occasion, they thrashed out their songs.

On what was my penultimate day at Somerset House, The Knocks a musical duo from New York, appeared, knocking out their songs, no pun intended. Ellie Goulding came onto the stage with the light appearing from behind her made her appeared shadowy and come out from a mist of light. I saw her last year at another festival, this time she had more of a band with her, gone are her drum kit that normally appeared next to her also, she had more moves to her routine.

Although not appearing on the bill, Karen Sheridan showed up with three songs before solo artist Delilah appeared. Lamb was another act that I have never heard of. Their music seemed more drum'n'bass though with a slower tempo. Andy appeared behind the decks, while Lou sang. While they performed there was another musician performing with a modern version of the double bass also on stage.

The venue was nice inside the neo classical building's courtyard, with tents either side of the entrance. I was impressed with how festival was set up. Now that it is over for another year, I guess it is back to boring nights!
review by: Richie Soans

photos by: Richie Soans

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