Headrow House, in Leeds, was vastly populated for yet another instalment of the week and a half long urban festival Beacons Metro. The line-up was comprised of two acts popular enough to headline the venue on their own, Paul Thomas Saunders and Margaret Glaspy.
The evening’s entertainment began with the talented Paul Thomas Saunders. The room fell deathly silent as Saunders dazzled us with his spellbinding voice and dreamy acoustic guitar sounds. His vocals were reminiscent of when Ryan Adams is at his most delicate. Whilst the guitar parts were tranquil and beautiful they were almost secondary to the stunning vocals, as this is where the majority of the tune comes from. His performance would have been just as compelling if it had been performed acapella. The audience quickly warmed to Paul Thomas Saunders and as the set progressed that soon became adoration. This admiration was in part due to his funny, off-beat and self-conscious monologues between tracks.
After a gripping set from Saunders it was time for another very individual and talented song-writer, Margaret Glaspy. From the moment she opened with the title track from her debut album “Emotions and Math” the crowd were right behind her and loving every moment. Backed by her band Margaret’s vocal display was truly captivating, and the sometimes raspy nature of her voice was even more prominent and impressive live. She seamlessly incorporates a wide variety of vocal styles and she is flawless at every step, whether it be during her soft and delicate moments of longing or when she is belting out impassioned angst.
She played “Emotions and Math” in almost its entirety, as well as treating us to plenty of new material and a couple of well-chosen covers. The first of these covers was a rousing rendition of “Fruits of my Labor” by Lucinda Williams which was closely followed by a genuinely touching and gripping cover of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor” which encompassed her full vocal range. The new material she showcased was so fresh that the tracks were yet to be named, and judging from the quality of them Margaret’s next album will be well worth looking forward to.
Glaspy’s whole performance was intoxicating and improved by the minute. The set was split into segments, the majority she played alongside the band but on a couple of occasions they left the stage as Margaret performed a cluster of tracks on her own. One of the many high points of the set involved her “Ex-Factor” cover, performed solo, before the band re-joined her for “You Don’t Want Me”, which Margaret described as a duet with herself. Solo her performance was tender and mesmeric, and when she had accompaniment they were feisty and energetic. Glaspy’s vocals were astounding throughout, especially so in “Love Like This”, but her guitar work was also eye catching. With her guitar she creates a style and sound that is utterly unique and reflects her quirky, too cool for school character.