Anything Better?

There were a couple of firsts for this reviewer when entering the Surrey Advertiser Tent on Saturday afternoon. With the rather intriguing sounding Farmer Jyles Barn Dance happening each night after the music came to an end, round the edge of the tent were bails of hay. I’ve seen and done a lot at festivals in the last decade, but not yet watched someone from the comfort of one of those things. Given the laid-back style of Laura Colegate, the hay bails added to the ambience of the occasion, something that was countered quite drastically by the thud of the Funky Ends Stage next door.

The other first was seeing Laura Colegate. We’ at R13 have caught her for the past couple of years at Guilfest, and have always considered her a genuine undiscovered talent, but this was my first chance to see her for myself. Last year the full band that accompanied her detracted from the impact of her fantastic voice, so it was a relief to see her take to the stage with only an additional guitarist and a bongo player for company.

She got an impressive turn out of what could be roughly estimated as a couple of hundred people, and her easy on the ear, acoustic folk received a great reaction.

The most thought provoking moment came when she did a version of ‘Valerie’, the Zutons track made even bigger by Amy Winehouse. Given that the music industry seems to wet their collective pants the minute Winehouse stops slurring, falling over or generally making a fool of herself long enough to actually sing, imagine how popular Laura Colegate could be if she actually got noticed. She’s the perfect artist for ‘Later with Jules Holland’.

The other track to really catch the ear is the brilliant ‘Anything Better’. It has something of a Texas feel to it, and is made for the Radio 2, Virgin Radio world.

As the set comes to a close, yet again we’re left to reflect on how Laura Colegate has the voice and the songs to be achieving much more than she actually is. If nothing else, we look forward to catching her again at Guilfest 2009.