This show was part of Erin Rae’s tour to promote her new album Putting On Airs that has been doing very well in the USA, it was also a warm up for the End Of The Road Festival that she was performing at alongside tonight’s main support Samuel R Saffrey.
Beginning the evening, in a packed basement, at The Slaughtered Lamb was Rowe who is a young female singer songwriter originally from Cornwall who was playing solo with an electric guitar who reminded me a lot of both Hope Sandoval and Tracey Thorne as she played barely there late night melancholic songs about love going wrong.
Her songs are full of betrayal and despair and on Part Time a feeling that she’s just one of many girlfriends. The best and what sounded like the most heartfelt was Comfort Is A Liar that was really powerful and also sounded like it would work really well with a full arrangement to help pull on our heartstrings. By the time she closed with Darker Nights she’d easily won the crowd over and I’d like to see her again with a band as well as solo.
Next on was Samuel R. Saffery who is currently based in Brooklyn but comes originally from New Zealand he had with him his band and they played mordant country folk that reminded me a lot of the Jesus Jones offshoot Blazing Zoos but with the addition of a female vocalist.
From the opening Ocean Of Light they were downbeat and slow and quite measured and Samuel certainly likes to sing about heartbreak and the subtle interplay between the male and female vocals worked well even if the songs aren’t that memorable.
The two songs in the set that did stand out for me were Underground which is about being at home alone while your partner is out cheating on you and the song he said was from his first band in New Zealand that he said were called something improbable like Just Say No To Tango and he brought up that bands guitarist to expand the band to a 5 piece for Carolina that had the best guitar solo of the set and then they finished with a song that sounded like a slow mellow Neil Young song about your best disguise.
Then it was time for Erin Rae to at times astonish me as I wasn’t expecting the incredible sounds her guitarist Jerry Bernhardt would get out of his Harmony guitar and pedal board that added otherworldly sounds that helped take them to another level and really captivate everyone present.
Bad Mind was the first song in the set that tackled some of the issues Erin has faced while coming to terms with who she is and how others perceive her and her sexuality in the Southern States of America and it was really powerful with her voice full of emotion and reminiscent of Linda Ronstadt it also had some really cool brushwork from her drummer.
Erin switched to an Acoustic guitar for Clean Slate where she just wants things back how they were before but knows it won’t happen. The title song of the new album Putting On Airs sounded really cool and we’ve all been guilty of this at one time or another.
Erin went back to her white Fender for Like The First Time that had some great shimmering guitar from Jerry to help accentuate the lyrics of well that first time. Futile Attempts has some rather thought provoking lyrics that worked really well to keep us all listening closely as all sorts of spectral guitar figures accompanied it.
They stripped things backed to a duo of Erin and Jerry for Playing Old Games that sounded serious until they both started to giggle after Erin missed a cue and it then took them about three more attempts to get through the song without falling apart again it was good fun. They had no such trouble on The Real Thing that had a really cool slide guitar part on it.
The rest of the band came back on and Erin challenged us on our pronunciations before they sang Monticello and she uses the local way of saying it. Love Like Before asks all sorts of questions in a nice subtle way so they get a point across without it being too obvious. They closed with a cool version of Can’t Cut Loose that guaranteed they left the stage to huge applause.
Yes Erin and Jerry came back for an encore and played a song from Erin’s first album about not apologising it was a cool end to a very good show and of course one last chance to hear both Erin’s great voice and Jerry’s often spectral guitar playing. They are well worth seeing live.
Live Review by Simon Phillips and Photography by Ruby Gaunt of Erin Rae, Samuel R. Saffrey and Rowe live at The Slaughtered Lamb Clerkenwell on 30th August 2018