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ROOKIE REVIEW: Gwyneth Herbert

Rookie Reviewer Ceri Osborne checked out the original and versatile Gwyneth Herbert at the Glee Club. Find out what she thought…

Though the Studio of the Glee Club was chilly, the reception offered by the city of Birmingham for Gwyneth Herbert filled the room with warmth. Adoringly supported by* Koco*, performing as a jazz duo rather than their usual multi-piece band, the sounds for the evening began with the smooth sultry voice of Lucy Fosker accompanied with intricate jazz piano from Piera Onacko for this month’s instalment of THSH Jazzlines.

The Ned Cartwright Experience, featuring Gwyneth Herbert, as Gwyneth’s partner on stage and soon to be husband Ned would have had the evening titled, began with a bright and beaming polka dotted Gwyn spilling with joy to be back in Brum. And the crowd were loud about being happy to have her.
After introducing the story behind her first song, So Worn Out, which included the 277 night bus from Hackney, the local Lidl and Dave with one pocket of Star Wars figures and one pocket of Star Trek figures (of which the two shall never be mixed), the most amazing noise broke forth from her mouth as the music began and I knew this woman was something special.

She entertained thoroughly and completely, lighting the crowd with her endearingly warm personality and fantastic story-telling between songs and through them. Drawing the crowd in she regaled of the (most definitely 100% honest and totally legitimately and historically accurate) story from her Aunty of how 50 Fishguard ladies defended the Welsh coast from a battalion of ships just by flashing their petticoats (cheeky smiles). She also painted a dramatic history of the island of Alderney and how it’s inhabitants worlds were forever changed with the assault of the Nazi’s. Showing an insight to her compassionate soul she explained how her song, Alderney, which is now sung as an anthem at their annual island celebration, is not her song but theirs.

She constantly amazed with her unending talents. A stunning voice capable of the softest whisper to the most powerful thrusting bellow of beautiful tune and every kind of noise you could imagine in between. Her eyes glistened as she sang, clapped in double-time and pedalled the kick-drum. She played the French horn, the piano, the ukulele, though to the great disappointment of many she had forgotten her kazoo. But Gwyn not wanting to let down her fans gave a fantastic improvisation via a fondue fork, a gin glass and the ‘air kazoo’ which was altogether amazingly hilarious! For someone who hasn’t seen or heard the kazoo version, I’m not sure how the real thing will live up to that!

Her very own Narrow Man Ned provided fantastic accompaniment on piano, ‘saxomophone’ and melodica. The pair worked in complete sync, with Gwyneth cheekily keen to stop and ensure their kisses would be clearly audible and in stereo during Fishguard Ladies.

All round entertainment is a guarantee with a show from Ms Herbert. Her outstanding abilities as a composer are clear not only in her musical talents and execution, how she conducts herself and her partner on stage, but also in the way she influences the room when calling for audience participation, speaking of which I’m pleased to report Birmingham don’t need rehearsals- we go straight in there and we make a good job of it!

After stirring up the audience with a rendition of the classic Jolene, Gwyneth smoothed down the room to her melodic Swahili Lullaby and gave encore to a tremendously intimate and completely acoustic wandering rendition of Midnight Oil. This was a beautiful ending to a wonderful exploration of music, stories and senses. She left you feeling enlightened and refreshed and certainly wanting to come back for more.

Ceri Osborne is a mature student studying English at BCU with a keen interest in music, literature and the arts.She has worked collaboratively with the Birmingham School of Acting in creating her own short film and working on creative writing and theatrical projects. She has eclectic tastes and enjoys new experiences and challenging ideas.