Bush Hall, that queen of iconic centurion dance halls in London, is spectacularly Christmassy this cold December evening.
There is no pit tonight. Shoulder to shoulder, men of a certain age and demeanor stand with a slightly steadfast, aggressive stance. Their hair departed long ago, but they are protective of their space and fond of using the video facility on their mobile phones, which they hold aloft in the direction of the talent.
There’s a thrill of anticipatory excitement in the air as Harleymoon Kemp takes the stage to begin this evening’s music. Dressed in a rhinestone-studded white two-piece, complete with a Stetson hat, she perfectly complements the twinkly lights around the venue. It makes us wonder, if the Vegas Gilley’s girls were to do an Elvis night, this outfit would be perfect, although hot pants would undoubtedly be a part of the ensemble.
With the very broadest of smiles, Ms Kemp begins her catchy, melodic, and heartfelt set. Harleymoon, in her gorgeous, sweet, and clear-as-a-bell voice, sings to us her unapologetically honest stories of her love life: mistakes, being lost, being in love, when it all goes wrong. Her shared vulnerability, and raw honesty, mean she connects with us, her appreciative audience, so swiftly – and it’s impossible not to smile with her, to believe in her, to enjoy her performance. Her personal, emotive lyrics are woven around effortlessly simple, sequenced chords and overlaid with catchy melodies.
Harleymoon talks to us as if she already knows us, her personality shining as brightly as her jewelled jacket, which she removes before singing ‘He Ain’t You,’ a song written after one of those ‘nice’ dates that follow a breakup from a true love. Harleymoon glows as she sings, her warm vibrato enriching her lovely tone.. ‘She Looks Like Me’ follows, and then ‘Can’t Take My Damn Self Home’—listening to these songs is so effortless, so easy; it’s as if you’ve heard them before, as if they’re already your favourites. The theme of the penultimate song has stayed with us for a long time… the heart-stopping ‘What Good Looks Like,’ with its beautiful suspended-chord finish, is about the love between her mum and dad that she has witnessed throughout her life. During the finale, ‘Lucky,’ she invites us to feel a magical poignancy, wrapping up her set with wistfulness, integrity, and something ultimately powerful—hope. Harleymoon’s beautiful, engaging set is a detailed collage of feelings, performed with heart and soul, enveloping us in a gorgeous Christmassy glow.
First Time Flyers, with their close harmony, off-the-scale enthusiasm, and fiendish guitar riffs and drum beats, set the stage on fire. Tim, Vicki, Jake, and Poppy make up this band of four vocalists and multi-instrumentalists, bound together by a long-standing friendship that exudes an enviable camaraderie and confidence on stage.
On the Bush Hall stage, First Time Flyers clearly revel in the moment, producing a tight, harmonious sound that is perfectly balanced. They sing in four-part harmony, pouring relentless enthusiasm and stellar technique into each song, showcasing their unique style. Their music and lyrics feel genuine and relatable. Despite not having sung together for long, the magical combination of their close relationships, catchy pop/country style, and boundless energy shines brightly in tonight’s sleek, polished, and ultimately exuberant performance.
Throughout their set, Tim, Vicki, Jake, and Poppy impressively maintain consistency, with songs that focus on each member in turn. Generosity and mutual love radiate from the quartet, and their lyrics, touching on self-love, self-awareness, and, of course, the ups and downs of relationships, create a heartwarming and beatific atmosphere in the beautiful Bush Hall this evening.
Suddenly, the luminescent hall seems to overflow with brilliance, and the lights radiate even more intensely. Twinnie, resplendent in a crimson sparkling dress that is daringly spliced up to the garter line, commands the stage. In all her strappy heeled glory, Twinnie serenades us with her compelling, robust, crystal-clear voice for nearly 70 mesmerizing minutes; and those minutes transform into a spellbinding and exhilarating journey…
Twinnie introduces her band with an effusive welcome, proclaiming their magnificence to all. “How astonishing do they sound?” she rhetorically asks after her inaugural performance of ‘Somebody and Something.’ Twinnie graces us with many of her cherished songs tonight, including ‘Sad Boy’ and ‘More.’ Her setlist is a tantalizing blend of deeply personal yet universally resonant themes. Twinnie pours her heart into her songs, exposing her vulnerabilities, thoughts, and unique experiences.
Naturally, tonight’s performance envelops us in a festive enchantment, featuring ‘Secret Santa’ and ‘Elf Yourself,’ with Twinnie ensuring the spirit of Christmas permeates the delighted audience. One of the standout moments of the evening occurs when she invites Sabyna, the indie-pop sensation, to join her for an electrifying rendition of the previously unreleased ‘Good For You,’ delivered in classic Nashville style. Another unexpected delight unfolds as TikTok sensation Arya graces the stage for his live debut, serenading the crowd with his latest hit ‘Take A Break.’
For us at 1st 3 Magazine, the pinnacle of the show arrives when Twinnie ventures into the heart of her adoring audience to deliver a hauntingly stripped-down acoustic rendition of her introspective ballad, ‘The Way I Loved You.’
Twinnie embodies the quintessential country artist, her repertoire diverse and enthralling, delivered with unbridled emotion and intoxicating intensity. Her fervor for her craft burns with a brilliant and unwavering flame; she is a captivating live performer, born to command the stage. She leaves her audience euphoric, celebratory, and steeped in the essence of Christmas spirit.
TWINNIE played Bush Hall, London on 21st December 2023
Support from Harleymoon Kemp and First Time Flyers