I am a freelance writer, living in Bath with my wife and son.
I love my city, and love to live here. I write about Bath every day, and sometimes about travels in Ireland.
Sofar Sounds, Sounds Wonderful
Sofar Sounds create intimate gigs in special and unusual locations, hosting superb live music performances. They allow music lovers to truly listen to performers in a private venue, and share a relaxed and cosy atmosphere. Now thriving in over 400 cities worldwide, the concept began with two music fans in 2009 in London, who were tired of going to gigs that were spoiled by talking and distractions during music events they went to. In its current form, Sofar has remained true to this, and still has these original core values. Four acts (always a surprise on the night) play four songs, and the performance is gently compered by a Sofar team member.
Sofar Sounds, Bath put on a fantastic show on Friday 9th, as they do once every month at a secret location in the city. The venue is only revealed to successful ticket holders, just 24 hours before the event. This one was generously hosted in a palatial private house overlooking the city of Bath and rolling countryside. Tickets to this month's awesome experience cost just £10, and over 100 people spied for a seat. With the sheer depth of talent and care that goes into the night, this is unbelievable value. It is priceless, in fact. Sofar staff were on hand and approachable, and all committed to making the night a success. To find out more about how it all word's, check the website out: Secret and special sounds to be discovered.
All four acts on Friday were professional musicians and wonderful to watch, but I was most deeply moved by the singing and guitar playing of Lady Nade from Bristol. Intelligently and subtly accompanied on guitar by Bath guitar virtuoso Seb Gutiez, Nade had the audience riveted by her performance. Her soulful voice is so, so emotive, and has a unique sound. For music fans, you have to imagine all the power and presence of Odetta, combined with the soaring tones of Joan Baez, delivered with the kind of joyful but heart-wrenching lyrics that Cat Stevens creates. She sounds like this:
I'm now a big fan of Lady Nade's music and I am really looking forward to hearing more of her creations. She is clearly a creative soul and includes recipes with all of her CD releases. This is so fitting, because listening to Nade is an enriching, healing experience, just as eating great food can be. As I left the gig, she was chatting to audience members about food, and clearly loving just being with people in a special atmosphere. Which is exactly why Sofar Sounds is so great. It is a warm, friendly community where people can have a great time, be this in their hometown or when travelling; just down the road or on another continent. It feels like home.
It was a genuine privilege to sit in a family living room, just metres away from performers, and to enjoy music along with other music fans who really want to enjoy a live performance. No talking during the acts is one of the house rules of Sofar and I back it all of the way. Despite being surrounded by over 50 people, the space was so quiet that I could hear the rain on the house windows. It was just so still and serene. Everybody was entirely focussed on the music, and those delivering it. Nade is a happy and joyful person and has an infectious laugh that made everybody feel very at ease in her company.
During breaks between the acts, I spoke to four friends who had all attended Sofar Sounds before, both locally and Internationally. It seems that the open friendliness of the events is universal, although all four folks said that this was the most special and atmospheric gig that they had experienced. As I said previously, I found Nade's set to be deeply moving, but in a very uplifting way. Although three of her four songs were about loss and heartache, they were delivered with such tenderness and Grace that I felt tingling alive, and so happy to be experiencing such a wonderful event. I had tears, but as my five-year-old son says, "they were happy tears".
Another great aspect of this intimate setup is the interaction between audience and performers. I could hear and participate in every single note of the evening and felt very connected to Nade and Seb as they performed. Both of them said how refreshing (albeit a little intimidating) that it was to be truly deeply listened to, and not have to contend with loud and inebriated drinkers that pop up in some pub and music venue gigs. I had a lovely chat with team leader Sarah, and we discussed how clear and beautiful the sound was. She told me that many of the audience are musicians themselves, and value the opportunity to listen very deeply to the music. I felt keenly that everybody there loved music, and wanted to enjoy it in every sense.
I am very excited that Lady Nade is Bristolian and frequently performs in Bath. She is also a committed campaigner and supporter of local charities, and so I shall be keeping my eyes and ears open for future performances in the city. She has a gorgeous website with a great deal of information and videos, which can be found at [LINK=LIN ladynade.co.uk] I love listening to passionate musicians, and Nade is clearly a very passionate lady. She donates a high percentage of any money she receives to local Alzheimer's and Dementia charities, and is a keen advocate for more research to be undertaken into Dementia illnesses, look I g for new treatments and therapies.
I have enjoyed many, many music events in Bath, and loved them all, but this one topped them all. For its unique atmosphere and venue, the breathtaking talent of the musicians, but most of all for the sheer joy of experiencing a truly gifted performer doing their thing. It is rare for a person to be soulful and beautiful both inside and out, but Nade is, and that beauty shines out in her music. I cannot wait for the next time I have a chance to see her perform. I hope that it will be soon, and hope that it may be in another Sofar Sounds event. They are a perfect, powerful combination. Perhaps I shall see you there?