Wildwood Kin + Charlie Harris live @ the Brook Inn, Plympton – 16/11/2017 

I’m a blogger and, as a result, a blagger. I don’t get paid for my writing so if I can get the odd free gig ticket or CD (or T-shirt, hint hint) then I’ll take it as recompense for my time, I’ve no problem with that. However, as soon as this gig was announced I knew I had to buy tickets for what is surely one of the biggest gigs to ever hit my home-town of Plympton. My hunch was right and as I arrived at the Brook Inn (a shining beacon of a venue in a world where live music venues are closing quicker than you can say ‘Simon Cowell killed songwriting’) the sold out nature of the night soon became apparent. 

Charlie Harris
When opening act Charlie Harris takes to the stage you can feel the nerves emitting from the teenager who has developed a strong reputation for one so young. The Cornish musician, however, soon turns heads (and shuts a few mouths) with the voice that creeps hesitantly and then blissfully from her mouth. Working through a few covers and one of her own compositions, Harris’ voice lives up to the hype and, despite a couple of technical hitches which don’t help with the nerves, she puts in a performance that has the crowd nodding and smiling with approval – particularly the sparse but linguistically accurate Ukulele version of globe straddling hit of the summer ‘Despacito’. If she can spend 2018 relentlessly gigging and writing more of her own songs then Charlie Harris will find herself on bigger stages with bigger audiences, no doubt.

Next up are three musicians from the Exeter scene who have banded together under the guise of Club Brothers – presumably because of their mutual love of the McVitie’s biscuit. Now, one of them I’ve seen fronting one of the best wedding bands I’ve ever seen, another I’ve seen all over the internet and the other shares a name with a host of good people so, collectively, the trio of singers gave me high hopes. In terms of the quality of their vocals, there’s no denying that these three have talent and they complement each other nicely as they mix covers and original compositions effortlessly. What was a slight let down, however, was their choice of songs which all felt a little to Sunday afternoon chill-out soul vibes which seemed to dampen the mood slightly. Covers of Sugababes and Kodaline worked but didn’t really inspire any swell of emotion or dancing so it felt like these three talented entertainers were holding something back a little. Then again, as one of my gig companions said, the job of a support act is to make the headliner look good so maybe there were some generous tactics at play here.
Wildwood Kin (Pic: The Lazy Photographer)

As the iPad toting compere left the stage to huge applause, three demure and unassuming women take to the stage with hunched body language and the flicker of a smile on their faces. This is not a band prone to rock star posing or over the top displays but then they don’t need any of that, they’ve got something very, very special. This is Exeter familial trio Wildwood Kin and regular LWM readers will know I’ve been championing these ladies for a while now so it was particularly gratifying to see them playing to a sold out venue on a Thursday night. Opening with former single ‘Warrior Daughter’, the trademark three part harmonies brought an awed hush to proceedings (apart from the three guys at the back who decided to talk and laugh through the whole performance – tools) and their magic started to spread.

In between songs like ‘Dove’, Hold On’ and ‘Circumstance’, it is singer and percussionist (and avid hat wearer) Meghann Loney who assumes the role of frontwoman, quietly drawing the audience in with tour stories, an unerring ability to stare in to the audience’s soul through a camera lens and the encouragement of one of her cousins (Bethany Key) to sneeze on stage for the first time (no dice this time) which all serves to endear the band to the audience all to more.  It is on songs like ‘Steady My Heart’, however, that my impress-o-meter (patent pending) goes up to new levels as the trio explore a new, darker side to their songwriting that adds depth and breadth to an already impressive set. A superbly emotional cover of the Stereophonics’ ‘Dakota’ brings a tear to the eye while the constant switching between acoustic, electric guitar, keys, bouzouki and a variety percussion keeps you guessing without the need for a large stage rig.

Wildwood Kin (Pic: The Lazy Photography)
A year ago, Wildwood Kin sold out Exeter Cathedral as a home-town, home-coming show and you would have forgiven them for going out at something of a pinnacle but these three are not content with being an enormous fish in a medium sized pond. No, despite being able to wow crowds is large pubs like tonight, these three have a debut album, ‘Turning Tides’, under their collective belt and they’ll take a break after this national tour before going again in 2018. With a much deserved encore of ‘The Valley’ leaving the Brook Inn chiming to the closing words of “help me find my place in the warmth of your embrace”, you can’t help but feel that something special has occurred here tonight, something that is very unlikely to be repeated with such intimacy and bonhomie ever again. Something that those back of the pub chatters may well live to regret…..if there’s any justice!

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