Reviewer: Selwyn Knight
Andrew Sharpe and Amy Kakoura form a songwriting and performing duo, specialising in folk, blues and jazz. Sharpe was already an established pianist when they met, largely by chance, over two years ago. Kakoura was a musical theatre graduate, writing and performing her own material. Since meeting and forming a team, they have collaborated on the new musical, Songs from a Ledge, about a fictional blues diva, Maria Lynwood and which was performed in Birmingham in November 2014. This evening’s entertainment is described by Sharpe as the story of their journey so far, and includes songs written individually and together over that period.
Sharpe and Kakoura share MC duties as the evening moves on, with anecdotes about the songs and their partnership. Sharpe accompanies most of the songs, allowing Kakoura’s powerful, bluesy voice to soar and fill the studio at Warwick Arts Centre. The two songs taken from Songs from a Ledge also allow Kakoura to show off her acting ability as she slips effortlessly into the persona of Maria Lynwood for the powerful, A Woman Knows and the more wistful and vulnerable, Anna in For Him. While Kakoura’s voice suits the jazz blues style of these pieces, she is also able to turn her talents to other styles. It also turns out she is a capable pianist as she takes to the piano to accompany herself for some of her own pieces, including the haunting piece, Cloths of Heaven, based on the poem by W. B. Yeats. Sharpe admits that at the time of meeting Kakoura he had not written any original songs, but does go on to sing the first of his own compositions, Stevie Was A Dancer. It’s fair to say that Sharpe’s voice is not in the same class as Kakoura’s, but his comfortable on stage persona and rapport with the audience easily overcomes that.
As a performing duo, one gets the feeling that Sharpe and Kakoura are still feeling their way and that their combined style of presenting is still in the process of being formed; what one can’t deny is their musicianship and talent.
First on the bill this evening is local singer/songwriter Robert Lane. Lane accompanies himself on acoustic guitar with a fairly long set made up principally of his own songs with a couple by more established songwriters, including The Bee Gees and To Love Somebody. Lane has a pleasant light voice that suits his songs well. Much of his set feels reminiscent of such singer/songwriters as Harry Chapin, although he demonstrates a variety of styles, including twelve bar blues and a bossanova (Pessimistic Me), and even an homage to The Who (Make It Easy). Lane is a capable guitarist and pleasant to listen to, but one can’t help feeling his performance is a touch bland and would benefit from a little more attack.
Overall, a pleasant evening out in the company of some fine musicians. One does get the feeling that this is a work in progress, albeit one with very good vocal performances from Kakoura, where the promise of the material is clear. Certainly the small audience at Warwick Arts Centre at this performance were appreciative.
Reviewed on 7th June