The first live gig I saw was a Tori Amos concert at the Royal Centre in Nottingham. It was a Sunday, and it was very nearly a disaster because I left the tickets at home, much to the annoyance of my friends. My dad came to the rescue and drove the tickets out to us, and we made in to the venue just in the nick of time. I was a big fan of Tori Amos (and indeed still am), and I found that first concert more than a little overwhelming. Sitting there in the concert hall listening to the same songs I listened to in my bedroom, but being sung live just a few feet away from me, it was incredible. I’ve loved live music ever since, but as I get older I’m becoming less tolerant of large music venues. Places like the O2 and Wembley Arena just don’t really do it for me. I prefer more intimate venues, and you don’t get much more intimate than Hucks Cafe on Grove Road.
Each month, Hucks is home to Held By Hucks, an afternoon of live music in the back room of the cafe. The event has been running for about a year, but being a bit rubbish I kept forgetting to go, only remembering which Sunday of the month it was when it popped up in my twitter feed. I prepared in advance for this months event, and popped the date in my calendar, setting a reminder for two weeks before, the week before, and the day before the event. Seems excessive I know, but it worked.
Intimate is the perfect word to describe the room the event takes place in. At 2pm one of the tables is folded and packed away, the chairs are turned around to face the back of the room, and suddenly it’s transformed in to small performance space. I reckon there’s probably seating for around 15 people, with room for others to stand. As the room is small, the performers don’t need amplifiers or microphones, which gives a really nice natural quality to the music, like they are playing it just for you. The afternoon started with a few songs from Marc Oliver, the organiser and host of Held at Hucks. He was followed Melanie Crew, a Leytonstone singer song writer with the most incredible gentle voice. Following Melanie’s soulful set, Brighton based Kevin Minney took to the stage opening with his track Dark Stars. Fellow Brighton based artist Della Lupa (Steph Brown), bought the afternoon to a close as she took control of the upright piano that lives in the backroom, and sang a number of her simply stunning tracks.
Big gigs put a wall of lighting and effects between the artist and the audience, Held by Hucks is just raw music. No pretence, no nonsense, just live music performed by the people who wrote it. You are so close to the performers you can see every key stroke of the piano, every movement as finger tips track across guitar strings, it’s kind of magical. With different performers each month, Held at Hucks should be in everyone’s calendar. For more info check their Facebook Page. You can find Hucks Cafe at 81 Grove Road.
For more info about the artists who performed during my visit, check the following links.