Bryde - Live @ The Slaughtered Lamb 14/05/2016

Photo Permission: John Williams Photography
London's The Slaughtered Lamb is home to a basement venue unlike many others in its vicinity. For one, it has working air conditioning that is an absolute luxury in comparison to the countless sweaty affairs I have been invited to in the past. It also holds a touch of comfortable, low-key class in its arrangement of circular candle-lit tables scattered in front of the stage area and leather sofas intended to help its visitors enjoy a relaxed intimate environment - be it live music or the comedy nights the venue frequently hosts.

On this occasion, we have filled out the entirety of the venue to see ‎Sarah Howells (Paper Aeroplanes) play her first London headliner under her new solo project, Bryde. With the room scantily lit, albeit it for the stage lighting making sure Bryde is fully exposed for our viewing pleasure and a few candles leisurely burning - it is so dark in the crowd I cannot see the faces standing next to me, let alone what I am writing in my notebook. But happily, this darkness hides the newly acquired ketchup stain on my fresh white converse courtesy of an impromptu chip dinner.

Bryde opens the set with bleak daunting guitar chords of 'Handstands' and the lyrics, "I didn't know which way was up, which way was down" under the wowed gaze of an attentive and still audience, breathing in every moment. In such an intimate environment,  where the front row of people are basically sitting on her lap, and with such a personal collection of songs,  it is understandable when after 'Handstands', Bryde squeaks her first (almost) word of the night, "Ooohh!". Before more intelligibly adding, " I've done lots of gigs on my own with a guitar, but this time I feel more alone".

It is after the second song of the night 'Oh Tender' that it becomes clear Bryde is playing half a professional musician set and half a comedy routine in between tracks when she states, "my throat is as dry as something rude" greeted by roars of laughter that were echoed throughout the evening. Other gems include Bryde's self-proclaimed sticky moisturised hands as she confides in the audience, "I've made this terrible error of putting hand cream on. No one wants dry hands when everyone is looking at you" and an anecdote about being asked to do a lot of weddings before ironically asking, "have you heard my songs?" before offering to play at any singles parties.

Admitting to an unexpected nervousness that she has not felt as a musician in the 5 years she has been performing, Bryde shows a real human vulnerability that is echoed in the themes of songs played that night like EP1 tracks;'To Be Loved', my personal favourite 'Wait' and 'Help Yourself' which Bryde performs with such an energetic fierceness which may not have left her breathless, but was exhausting to watch. It is safe to say nerves have not noticeably affected the quality of her performance.

With her shadow projected on not one, but two walls, we in the crowd are seeing three Brydes as if she is channelling the ghosts of her past self to add to the poignancy of the lyrics she is singing. During her songs she scans the room seemingly unseeing,  perhaps searching for the times and places, the experiences and the people who have influenced her tracks. And with a voice that spans, hits and holds a range of raw notes with such an otherworldly, penetrative ease, there is something fitting about watching the shapes of herself manifesting in the background as she lays herself bare.

As her set draws to a close, Bryde says, "I want to thank loads of people but I won't because it's not the Oscars" queuing the same deep, belly laughter that has filled the room with warmth throughout the evening.  It is only right I remember what my best friend whispered to me at the mid-way mark of the show, "She's a lovable character isn't she?", the answer is yes, and as Bryde finishes all her solo songs for the night, breaks for a much needed sip of water and is egged back on to play a Paper Aeroplanes' track - it is "Ribbons" she chooses, and  it is with misty eyes we leave the room, feeling like something truly special just happened.

Words of Karla Harris