Ellen and the escapades at the Lexington, London, March 2nd 2011
The amazing Ellen Smith
The band Ellen and the Escapades comes from Leeds and had its breakthrough last year after winning the Emerging Talent Competition at Glastonbury. Is there more pressure on them now ? definitely but for their first live show in three months they made quite a statement by delivering a heart-warming and mind-blowing performance.
There were premises of a great show just by looking at the band doing soundcheck and testing a couple of new songs. There was also a bit of apprehension because this was their first show since December therefore some rustiness was expected. However the relaxed faces were telling you that the band was very confident and on its way to hit new heights.
At the bass, Andy
James at the drums
Ellen and the Escapades took the stage at 10pm and kicked in directly the intro full of vocal harmony of Without You. Then Jeff on the guitar started this little echoing riff before a dylanesque harmonica played by Chris clearly announced that the train was ready to roll. Ellen was in the middle singing with this amazing voice that hooks you up instantly. The band followed with another fact-paced song with Preying on your mind. The band was showing absolutely no signs of rust and everyone could feel their joy of playing together, you just needed to look at Ellen’s adorable smile to be convinced. The audience knew that and responded loudly and cheerfully to this fantastic introduction.
Ellen continued with the delicate and regretful This ace I’ve burned. There is really something irresistible in her voice, fragile and at the same time so determined and enchanting. Ellen broke into her own harmonica solo that capped one of the best songs in their repertoire. She thanked the audience for being so respectful as everyone was clearly enjoying the show then she added that Jeff the guitar player from California had acquired a new pedal board and that he couldn’t fully use it yet, though he was about to put his imprints on the next song in an incredible manner.
The band started the song Run with this majestic introduction then Jeff took over by playing some magnificent echoing notes that perfectly complemented Chris’s waves of retro organ-like keyboard for maybe the most beautiful moment of the show. After playing their classics, the band unveiled one of their new songs which proves to be exciting, like a crazy horse running to save his life. The track is splendid : the instrumentation is very subtle with multiple interventions of Jeff and Chris, the rhythm section, formed by Andy at the bass and James at the drums, takes you on this desperate roller-coaster and of course Ellen’s voice which illuminated this song, especially with a stunning finish.
Lead guitarist Jeff
At the keys, Chris
Yours to keep was no less than amazing of its own. Ellen and the escapades showed that they can write some very nice up-tempo songs along with spirited slow ballads. On this particular love song, Ellen’s voice is probably at her most soulful, most captivating. A truly magical moment that words alone can't do justice. The band then returned to its folk roots to supposedly end the show. A Promise is a intense bluesy song while When the tide was an exquisite ballad with a lighter melody and phenomenal vocals. When the tide particularly stood out as it sounded like one of these ancestral songs that everyone knows by heart. The band stayed on stage for the encore as “there is nowhere to go” and presented the new song, I’ll keep you warm, which is in the vein of A Promise. I’ll keep you warm is another love song that Ellen transcends with her hypnotizing voice. The real last song was the opportune and brilliant Coming back home. Jeff displayed first some peaceful slide guitar work before playing some quirky little riffs. The whole song is full of contained energy that only demands to explode, which happened at the end with a very nice and spontaneous sing-along with the audience. This was the perfect way to end an amazing show. Judging by the smiles on everyone’s face, the band was very happy and satisfied with their performance that night.
The music of Ellen and the escapades is joyous, introspective, authentic, appealing and so on. Despite the growing success, the band members have stayed true to themselves and humble. That night, they graced the Lexington like very few bands have done and by playing performances of this caliber, it is only a matter of time before they play in front of larger crowds. Their future may become very, very bright, this is what we can hope and now expect from this young and talented band.