The Black Lion in Kilburn, North London, is an impressive venue and clearly used to hosting live music. In a spacious high-ceilinged room filled mostly with musicians, there were a few technical squeaks while the equipment was set up. Once the performances got going though, it was clear that there were some really good acts on show.
This was the first of several nights that will showcase talent that’s up for inclusion at the Kilburn Festival in July. Demonstrating a range of genres, the focus was on the acoustic, and the audience were mostly positive in their response. It was a shame that the busy pub drew less casual interest to the gig than might have been expected, and while the room felt full at times, the acts could have benefited from a larger audience.
Having gone there to review our own Hotsteppers, as well as check out Annie Lovell, there were a number of other stand-out acts, including the soulful R&B voice of Karim, and the three-piece urban group The Meds Collective, and the acoustic guitar sounds of Richard Clarke, who was vocally adventurous if slightly sombre.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Hotsteppers were upbeat and lively, even though not all the band could make it to perform. Even with a PA backing track and only two members of the band on stage, they were engaging and energetic, giving a real sense of the summer festival sound they’re going to take to Kilburn Festival. The strong saxophone notes and deep beats they played were really catchy, and looking around the audience it seemed they agreed! Layla’s strong voice, a mixture of throaty soul and soaring notes, really held the performance together, and while it was clear that the band playing together would create a richer, deeper sound, it was a good insight into the potential of the Hotsteppers. The two tracks they were scheduled to play left us wanting more; we look forward to seeing the band play all together in the near future!
To top off a great bill, Annie Lovell appeared with her keyboard and played to the remnants of the crowd; those that stayed past the last train home were entranced as her voice rose and grew with the swell of her playing. This lady is definitely one to watch!
As one of the first showcases of the talent available at the summer festivals, it was a great night to kickstart the new season of great music in London.