Tuesday 8 November 2022

Harriet Bradshaw / Big Society - Manchester Gullivers - 7th November 2022

Harriet Bradshaw's small tour in support of her self-titled debut album that was released last week called in at Manchester's Castle Hotel for an intimate show on Monday night, performing tracks from the album as well as a special cover. Support came from an acoustic solo slot from Big Society's front man Will.
The room's almost empty when Will from Big Society takes to the stage, testament to the difficulty of getting people out to smaller shows these days, particularly on a cold Monday night, but Will very much takes it in his stride as he delivers a well-received six-song set which demonstrates the quality of his band's songs even though a couple of his band are in attendance for moral support. Highlights are their recent single Billy, which he admits unintentionally is autobiographical, and 2020's Why Are You So Afraid To Dance and a cover of Beneath The Willow Tree. 

Harriet has spent much of her career so far as a sought-after musician with the likes of I Am Kloot's John Bramwell and her self-titled debut album sees her stepping out of the shadows and taking centre stage. The album is a beautifully crafted, simple yet affecting record, full of tales drawn from personal experience and feelings. Poetic in places, one song Yours coming from a Silvia Plath poem set to music, and rich in emotional content elsewhere, there's absolute silence in the room from the small crowd as she plays. Part on acoustic guitar, part seated at a keyboard, the moving between instruments helps pace and diversify the set, but also allows the audience to focus on her voice which adds depth and connection to the words she's singing.

The songs don't dip in quality at all keeping the audience listening, whether it be the guitar-led Mermaids And Pondskaters and Yourself And Nobody Else and the keyboards of Looking Up and Clothes I Wear. She still appears a little unsure about being in the spotlight, but laughs off a dropped capo at the end of a song and jokes with members of the audience she knows. That disappears though the minute she starts playing and singing. She finishes on a Kate Bush cover as she's recently worked on some syncs for her music and comments on the need to sing high throughout. It's something Harriet manages with aplomb though, in keeping with the rest of her set.

Harriet Bradshaw's website can be found here and she is on Facebook and Twitter. The album is available on her Bandcamp on digital, CD and vinyl.

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