I have been asked to check out a young lady from Texas called Jessica Clemmons, having had time to listen to her album ‘Loving this day‘ I’m looking forward to hearing her live, a young woman with a big voice.
When we arrived at the Hammersmith Apollo, where Jessica is supporting The Overtones, the venue doors were already open, no great searches or organised queues, the cliental is obviously different today! I picked up our tickets at the box office and we made our way upstairs. Wow, we are in the second last row, you don’t want to be here if you have a fear of heights…lol, the last time I sat up here was when I took my goddaughter to see Jason Derullo ;-)( yes, he did tear his t-shirt off…heheheh)! It would be interesting though to find out what the sound is like from here, often the quality isn’t that great when you’re at the frontrow. There are a lot of empty spaces around us, but we are fairly early and many people don’t turn up until the main act!  The age group is very mixed, mature couples, groups of women and quite a few youngsters, some men look like they were dragged along rather than came willingly…lol! I must say peeking over the railings to the floor level I don’t think I have ever seen the Apollo all seated, kind of strange!

And now it’s time for Jessica Clemmonds, she arrives to a rather bare stage, curtains behind her, one microphone stand in the middle and the lights arranged to different shades of colour washes. She looks rather small from where I’m sitting.
When Jessica starts singing you are confronted with her powerful big voice, she may look small, but her voice amazing. Her first song ” Keep On Moving” puts you under a spell from the word go and it is obvious there are a lot of fans in the audience.  Jessica performs a Motown Meadley, that went down really well and caused a bit of a sing-along, followed by the title song of her album “Loving this day” and also her single “Free”, which she emphasises as being very special to her, I love these two songs!  This young lady certainly has got talent and knows how to draw in a crowd, she appears confident on stage but her banter needed to be timed properly due to the playback, which was a shame as there wasn’t any scope for spontaneity.  I do think Jessica would benefit with a band accompanying her, or make it an acoustic set with a guitarist. I also feel there is no need for anymore cover songs, Jessica you have some amazing songs and lyrics, finishing with Whitney Houston spoiled it a little bit for me. Nicely done but unnecessary, your album is really great and as far as I’m concerned that is what I want to hear!
Before she takes a bow and says goodnight she mentions that she will be at the Merch stand shortly and would be happy to have a chat. I decide to go and meet her. By the time I got downstairs quite a few people are already queuing, I just bide my time and watch her interacting with her fans. Jessica is very sweet and patient, I have to smile when people tell her full of excitement that they have been to Texas, ….she is happy to pose for photos and sign all sorts of things. One lady gets her to sign a big poster, which I think was made for the Overtones. Eventually I get

my turn and am introduced to Jessica, a quick chat and I leave the poor girl to catch her breath. When I mention that she needs a band she smiles and tells me her car is just too small for one….but next time!! Looking forward to it Jessica 🙂 I certainly would love to see you again.

Once back on my seat The Overtones are about to start, I don’t really know what to expect, some retro boy band? Well, the crowd goes mad when they come on stage, 5 well dressed young men, and yes definitely retro..lol, add a brass ensemble and close your eyes (or look at the decor of the Apollo) and you could imagine being back 50 years or so. Many covers are played, “Runaway Sue”, Billy Joels’s “For the longest time” but to be honest having seen Billy Joel live a couple of times many moons ago it doesn’t quit hit the spot. The show itself is well choreographed and obviously aimed at the female audience, who are screaming and clapping wildly, the mention of tight trousers and turning their backs to us for all of 5 seconds seems to hot up the already manic crowd. There are many many fans, and I’m sorry to say I can not quite join in :-(. a couple of songs are fun to sing along, “Perfect” for instance or “That Loving Feeling”, mind you “Unforgettable” just didn’t work, both David and I felt it didn’t do the song  justice. At some point a bench was brought onto the stage the boys gathered on and around it, all it needed now was a bit of snow and it could have been a cheesy Christmas card. Sorry, I’m sounding negative here, but I’m afraid as much as I tried The Overtones just didn’t get to me, I can appreciate their well rehearsed show and obviously there is a market for them judging by a more or less sold out Hammersmith Apollo. I just struggle with bands using too many covers, only two or three of the songs were their own. A couple of times the band left the stage, leaving it dimly lit with the band playing an instrumental tune. I found that quite odd, as it wasn’t a break really, but people still got up and went out either for drinks or loo breaks. It may have been a costume (or jacket) change, I’m not too sure. A nice touch was to advertise the charity ‘You CAN help’ which basically involves people donating a can of food to be given to people in need, somebody dressed up as a tin came on stage and they were given a trolley full of cans.. I also liked the quirky idea of their sing-along song, they came to the edge of the stage holding up big cards with words and symbols on, and interacting with the crowd by picking up on signs in the crowd ….”Tanja, says hello to London”, I assume it was written on a banner. In a weird sort of way it was a fun show, but on the whole it wasn’t for me. But that is only my opinion, the other 3000 people enjoyed it! There was plenty of hysteria and energy in the air, so well done boys!

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About FrontRowStef

Following months of putting in the necessary hours of research, I have been bullied into writing a blog about my gig experiences! I can’t claim in-depth technical musical knowledge, or a massive CD collection, but, I know what I like and what doesn’t sound good in a live setting. I’m not intending to write great reviews about bands, but more of stuff that happen to me while out and about. Like when a dear friend of mine pointed out that it looks like I’m putting my towel down when I hit the barriers at the front and claim my spot with my jacket draped over the railings. What does he mean? Is it because I’m German? Enough introductions, you will get to know me sooner or later! Oh and apparently I’m going to be referred to as Front Row Stef, simply because that is my rightful place!

One response »

  1. Anonymous says:

    Not long ago I sat on that balcony … Gotye … I personally like bands playing not playback !

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