Sunday 18 June 2023

Ed Cosens / Tom Bright / Oliver Pinder - Leeds Mill Hill Chapel - 17th June 2023

The intimate beautiful surroundings of Leeds' Mill Hill Chapel was the scene for the closing night of Ed Cosens' UK tour performing tracks from his debut solo album Fortunes Favour as well as some old Reverend And The Makers favourites and new songs from his work-in-progress second album. Support came from impressive sets by tour support Tom Bright as well as local lad Oliver Pinder.

It's our first visit to Mill Hill Chapel in Leeds, we've innocuously walked past it many times on the way from Leeds Station to venues further into town, but had never stumbled across this hidden gem. With pew seating and lit by candles as well as subtle lighting and with sound that would put many church venues to shame, it's a perfect space for an acoustic show where audience is here to sit and listen to all three artists and not just the headliner.

Oliver Pinder opens up the evening, and whilst he trades on Twitter under the sadboy handle, his songs don't wallow in self-pity and he delivers them with a warmth of personality that endears him immediately to the crowd. Whether it be The River, a song he tells us he wrote at fourteen, or a new song called Pretty Faces that is going to be his next single, he's an articulate songwriter who uses his own experiences to write songs that will be relatable to many. His set focuses heavily on his recent EP Potential, I Guess? - opening track Stressed, Beautiful Second and Late July being highlights - and because it's just him performing he eschews the piano and subtle beats of the recorded versions for a guitar. He makes a very positive impression on a crowd, none of whom appear to have heard him before and who sit in silence to listen to him rather than continuing their conversation as so often happens at shows like this.

Tom Bright already has some serious champions of his music and from knowing nothing about him at all before tonight, we are taken in from the moment he tells us he doesn't know anyone and that it's lovely to see us. He's a fascinating character, music aside, telling us he was once the UK's youngest pub landlord at eighteen and that his stomach is somewhere near his shoulder after being born with medical problems that meant he didn't leave hospital until he was two. Like all great singer-songwriters he has an ability to charm an audience that's matched by his songwriting craft.

Bless Our Generation laments the negative impact of technology on our lives and the expectations it places on people. Legacy, the title track from his second album penned as a reaction to lockdown, is intense and intelligently observed, whilst his poem Ode To The Pub summarises the link between the closure of drinking establishments across the country with the dehumanisation of society as money and possessions rather than human connection becomes king. Remarkable Things finishes with a more positive spin on the world from a songwriter who's already got his third album, Something Anywhere from which he plays the title track, good to go. The audience's response at the end of a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable half an hour suggests that everyone now knows him.

Ed Cosens is of course best known as Jon McLure's sidekick in Reverend And The Makers, but to dismiss him as just that would doing him a massive disservice as he sets about proving over the course of the next hour and a quarter, accompanied in part by Brian on piano and Antonia on bass as well as a song called Don't Forget Me Please where he invites Tom on stage and plays piano himself. 

His 2021 album Fortunes Favour and a set of new songs he plays from its follow-up which he says will be finished by the end of the month for release next year show him to be an exceptionally accomplished songwriter capable of crafting songs that forge immediate connections, full of honest warmth, relatable human emotions and a sprinkling of dry humour which he also demonstrates throughout in his between song chat. He jokes about catholic guilt for swearing in church and feeling that he's being looked down upon, that his second album might take ten years to release and tells us the story of the church's minister discovering oxygen in the 1770s before musing how people breathed before then.

He adds in a trio of Reverend And The Makers songs - Last To Know, Auld Reekie Blues and Hidden Persuaders - but the audience response is as warm for his solo songs, with people mouthing along to them, as it is for those.  He also plays a lovely cover of Chris Isaak's Wicked Game that avoids the cheesiness that he says might occur. It also shows the strength of his voice admirably.  

However it's his solo songs that really stand out, either when he's solo acoustic or accompanied by Brian and Antonia. The River, If and his own personal favourite Madeleine are stand outs from Fortunes Favour whilst Phantoms Of Youth suggests that album two is going to keep the bar high when album two is revealed to the world.

The audience sit and listen attentively, drawn in by the songs and Ed's personality. Ed's unfazed by the difference between the intimacy of the church and the big halls that Reverend And The Makers played  recently with the release of their album Heatwave In The Cold North. The audience sit and listen, drawn in by the songs and Ed's personality which comes through in both the music and chat. There's a love of doing this for the sake of making music and saying something personal that mirrored back by the love of it from the audience.

Ed Cosens is on Facebook and Twitter.

Tom Bright is on Facebook and Twitter.

Oliver Pinder is on Facebook and Twitter.

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