Clare Kelly: Wharf Chambers, Leeds

One of the most intimate and credible venues in Leeds, Wharf Chambers, hosted a night of highly talented solo artists. The event, curated by headliner Clare Kelly, showcased the wealth of talent having to make their own way on the DIY scene.

The night began with Leeds based singer/songwriter Joseph Moore. His soulful voice and California blues style guitar riffs provided delicate moments with a salsa infused edge. Moore is sickeningly talented, and what’s more it seems effortless to him as he performs his stoner blues in an incredibly laid back fashion. Every element of his performance impresses, his writing and musicianship perfectly display Moore’s creativity, and his vocals were beyond impressive.

Next up, and all the way from London, was ME REX. Singer and guitarist Myles performed solo, with the rest of the bands parts being provided by a backing track. Originally the pounding backing seemed at odds to the lead’s intricate guitar work, but the longer the set went on the more it grew on me until it made complete sense. Despite him not being Scottish his vocals reminded me of We Were Promised Jetpacks, and occasionally their sound seemed like a mix between early Blink-182 and Biffy Clyro. ME REX are equally as skilled at producing soft, ponderous, moments as they are at creating uplifting punk pop. In a delightfully quirky move you could buy the bands latest EP’s in the exclusive formats of transfer tattoos and toy dinosaurs after their set.

Finally it was the turn of headliner Clare Kelly, as she arrives on stage the first thing that struck me about her is that I have never had such a serious case of guitar envy previously. Once her performance begins you realise that she has a voice that is comparable with some of the jazz greats, like Ella Fitzgerald. The audience fell silent, in complete owe of her ability, mesmeric voice and dreamy guitar tones. Each track comprises of emotive and deeply personal lyrics, these emotions and feelings are expertly portrayed in the vocals. The use of a loop pedal to provide her own backing vocals and to harmonise with herself added extra depth. It was a set which began with beautiful and tender tracks before gradually progressing to incorporate some more up tempo and anger inspired numbers. Throughout the set Clare fully showed her impressive range and there were occasional hints of a Laura Marling influence. Clare Kelly’s vocals cover a wide spectrum, they can be soft and delicate, haunting, they can evoke emotions and when required they can be forceful and powerful. My personal highlight of this thoroughly impressive set had to be “Off This Page”. The soul-baring lyrics coupled with the passionate way in which they were delivered proved to be truly thought provoking, and seemed to form a real bond between Clare and her audience.

It was a night of wonderfully talented musicians, in which Clare Kelly was the stand-out performer, it is just a shame that genuine talent is now confined to these smaller venues and DIY releases.