Scala – London
There’s a first time for everything, and Gemma Hayes’ sold out Scala show was without doubt the first time I’ve witnessed a chicken and mushroom Cornish pasty being raffled off on stage. Finally…a singer who knows the way to the crowds hearts! And despite London being awash with rain, the venue is packed to the rafters, the party atmosp! here defying the icey old and down right miserable London waiting for us outside.
Following her successful debut ‘Night on My Side’ Gemma reportedly suffered writers block before finally producing one the most beautiful albums of the year, ‘The Road Don’t Love You’ – which goes to show, some things just shouldn’t be rushed, and kudos to EMI for giving her time to grow. Walking onto stage she’s a tiny figure, almost dwarfed by her guitars ( which she changes between every track).
Unassuming, dressed in vans and skinny black jeans she is at first a little shy, obviously taken aback by the packed out venue as she stares down at her guitar. But as ‘Happy Sad’ kicks off the set – Hayes’s voice soars above her backing band, and before long a coy grin creeps onto her face. Her tone is wonderfully husky, her sing song Irish accent rich and reassuring. Tracks like ‘Keep me Here’ and ‘Easy on The Eye’ are hauntingly perfect – the soft lyrics belying the fact that the latter…..well basically it’s a track about stalking.
Fresh from winning a Meteor for Best Female in the Irish Music Awards it’s clear as the set goes on that Gemma’s confidence is at full tilt. Chatting to the audience she deadpans as she tells of the text her sister sent her early one morning ‘ Bird flu has hits the UK..it’s killing old and ugly birds..are you ok?’ with a cheeky grin. A brilliant cover of Reckless Eric’s ‘ Whole Wide World’ is welcomed with rapturous applause, the new single ‘Undercover‘ changes the gear down to a mellow saunter. She has the audience eating out of the palm of her hand, there’! s no arrogance to her performance, and her gratitude is endearing. Walking out for the encore she grins ‘ Ah so you’re still here…that’s a good sign!’.
Ending a great night with the anthemic ‘I Let A Good Thing Go’ she loses herself in a crashing guitar solo – it’s clear that she really is going to be a force to be reckoned with. With her confidence growing but without the ego, she’s an artist that has universal appeal. Even if you’re not into your guitar music, you can’t knock talent. And despite not winning the Cornish pasty and almost being blinded by the lighting (blinding your audience with spotlights is never a good idea) Gemma Hayes charms have won us over. Catch her before she goes stellar.
For more info check out www.gemmahayes.com