Jesse Terry + Emma Stevens, Cluny 2, Newcastle, 9th October 2019

Sharing the headlines on this tour of the UK and Ireland, Jesse Terry and Emma Stevens, two experienced singer-songwriters, hailing from opposite sides of the Pond, may have seemed an unlikely co-bill. However, even though they’d never actually met before this tour, and their styles are quite different, they gracefully complemented one another. Co-bills (as opposed to a name act plus support) are an excellent idea but, and I’m sure it’s part of the strategy, they have a tendency to leave you wanting more from both acts and this was the case tonight.

First up was Stevens gently strumming a ukulele to her love song ‘Once’ from her first album ‘Enchanted’. Bringing a sweet style to the stage in her pink dress and white ankle boots, Stevens was quite a vision. But, when you delve into her background, it is far from sugary. Usually performing in a trio, she admitted feeling a little lost on her own, but she more than proved she could hold the fort herself with ease. Her rock-band past and string of Radio 2 playlist songs granting her the tenacity to give a faultless performance. There was plenty of name-dropping going on but why wouldn’t you when you have been encouraged and supported by the likes of Sir Terry Wogan and Chris Evans. And, you’ve recently collaborated with Charlie Midnight and, from closer to home, Kevin Jerimiah from the band The Feeling, which resulted in her recently released EP ‘Atoms’.

From the set she chose, it seems Stevens favours writing about love and loss. A classic example is the song ‘Atoms’, about finding loved ones in the afterlife. And also ‘Sunflower’ a charming ode to anyone who has lost someone they loved, written to help Stevens cope after the sad loss of her mother.

After a short break, seasoned troubadour Jesse Terry took to the stage.

All the way from Connecticut USA, Terry regularly tours the US, the UK and beyond, spreading his own brand of happiness and positivity with his remarkable collection of songs and stories. By his own admission, Terry came through a difficult youth with a renewed optimism that makes him the happy, gentle, funny and free spirit that he is. His lyrics reflect real-life experiences. The back-stories are endearing on their own but, turned into songs, they are magical.

Being a regular in the Newcastle area meant much of the loyal audience were familiar with Terry’s extensive back-catalogue. So, for him to be showcasing a bunch of new songs was a pure delight. He still threw in favourites such as ‘Noise’, a song of loss that he now sings at weddings, typifying the underlying joyousness of much of his work. Another all-time favourite with the audience was ‘Stargazer’, a song which encourages hope and belief. The video for which was recorded in the stunning Bamburgh Castle, one of Terry’s most favourite places, on the North East coast of England.

Then there were the new songs, woven seamlessly into the set as though they’d always been there, totally enchanting the crowd with their charm and wonder. ‘If I were the Moon’, a lullaby for his baby daughter, is as captivating as the heavenly body itself. ‘When We Wander’, and ‘Strangers in our Town’ relate whimsically to the romantic, nomadic lifestyle the Terry family live. Although the family do have roots in the charming town of Mystic, they never pass on the opportunity to travel together.

A further surprise pleasure came after Terry took his bow when he invited Stevens back to the stage to perform a duet. The classic Tom Petty/Jeff Lynne song ‘Free Fallin’ was beautifully delivered to his delighted followers who, despite it being a school night, would have happily listened through the early hours. Petty and Lynne are among Terry’s influences. Others include James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Springsteen & Roy Orbison. However, while Terry’s work is in a similar vein, his personality, astuteness and classic yet contemporary flair, make him stand out from the crowd.

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