3rd February was certainly a cold night in Tingwick with temperatures dropping down to minus 5, still the heating was on full in the village hall to greet the 100+ people who braved the elements for what would be a wonderful night of music in the company of The Webb Sisters.
In support we welcomed back one of our favourite singers Rebecca De Winter, who is no stranger to Empty Rooms, having first played support for Diana Jones in her original band Tinker Jack, she then returned in 2010 in one of her first gigs in the new set up and in support of The Eve Selis Band. Ever versatile tonight she played as a duo along with percussionist Dan, admitting this was the very first time playing in this combination, they breezed through their 30 minute set with ease, the mixture of Rebecca’s accomplished piano playing and vocal style with the subtle playing from Dan on Tabla, tom tom and cymbal really worked. Playing a selection of songs from the new CD, Rebecca was confidently at ease with the attentive audience, many of whom had probably seen her for the first time, even finding time to make light of a less than flattering comment about one of her song in an otherwise favourable review of her album, though this did not stop her singing the same said song. She finished the set with their first major video hit Shy Bride, which is worth checking out on You Tube (or earlier on in this blog for that matter) I’ve said it before, do check out her CD Rebecca De Winter . . . and other tales.
After a 20 minute break, to allow the audience to brave the night air for a short walk across the road to the pub to replenish their glasses, Mike, the promoter, introduced The Webb Sisters by declared his undying love for them, while admitting before booking them he wasn’t to familiar with their work . . . I think he might have got away with that confession.
Having already played London’s O2 Arena along with friend Leonard Cohen, who coined the name The “sublime” Webb Sisters, we were very pleased that they had no problem playing a Village Hall in rural Buckinghamshire, all be it a now legendary venue. So with just, harp, guitar, mandolin and the most exquisite vocal you could wish to hear, Hattie and Charley played majority of the songs from their current CD Savages as well as some form their previous albums. Inevitably talk would get around to Mr Cohen and their world tour along side him, especially when they introduced his composition “If it be your will” and although a lot of the audience came to see them on the strength of their performance with him, just as many were there on their merit alone and indeed why not.
Playing for just over and hour and 20 minutes, the time did seem to fly and such was the warmth of the girls presence on stage I doubt anybody noticed that the heating was switched off at half time. And a special mention does need to go to the Village Hall or Scout Hut to give it it’s proper title. Although this is just a regular wooden village hall, which from the outside may be a bit of a shock to some of the visiting musicians, there is no doubt there is something special about the acoustics here and this is underlined more when artists feel confident enough to turn off the PA, turn on the lights and join the audience for the final few songs, which is where these intimate venues win over on even the modest 400 seated ones and musicians can shine. Clearly the Webb Sisters had no problems here, choosing to end the evening with a version of Kate & Anna McGarrigle – Heart Like Wheel, which got the response from one gentleman leaving that, their rendition was so moving to bring him to tear at the same time a feeling of elation to be part of such a special night, I sure others would wholeheartedly agree.
I’m sure there will be the lure of the larger venues to play in the future, but we hope we will be able to invite The Webb Sisters back to one of our smaller venues, at least one more time, these girls are always welcome.