Friday night at the Fox featured a dual-release of two local artists who had recently put out new albums. Chersea was celebrating her newest release In Limbo, and Royal, with Heart of Shadows.
Opening the whole night was Emily Rowed, who I only caught the tail end of. She joked about playing a “hymn in a bar” as she went through some mellow and sultry songs. The last couple that I heard were a perfect fit as opener for the night.
Chersea was out next, joined by her full band, and showcased her new album playing it front to back (pretty much). While I've seen her playing with a full band a few times -- no longer relying on just her looping pedals -- this was the first time as a real show in a venue (as opposed to an outdoor stage), so I was looking forward to it.
Starting off with the slow-burning "Murphy's Law", songs ranged from the upbeat and frantic "Comfort You" and the insanely danceable "Chromance", to the darker and more sinister "The Wolf" or the heartbreaking "I Can't Be You". She even pulled out a cover of Patrick Watson's "Man Like You".
Jumping from keys to guitar to trumpet over the span of the set (synth player Kristy-Lee Audette also joining in on the latter for dual trumpet action) Chersea's strong voice filled the room, as she often came right up to the front of the stage with the crowd. From the first time I saw Chersea play, alone with her loop station, she always had a strong confidence onstage, but that’s just grown over the years and this was probably the best set I’ve seen her play.
And finally, Royal rounded out the night. She took the stage in a sequined red gown, complete with black elbow gloves (for the first song, anyway), and a backing band clad in black. Their look complimented the smokey and moody sound, as she began with "Kings & Queens" off the album.
With an incredible captivating stage presence, she focused on Heart of Shadows, including the dreamy "Black Beauty" and “Reminiscence”, a song that demands to be listened to in a dimly-lit bar with a glass of whiskey. And maybe also in black and white, somehow.
After a fun, jazzy cover of "It's My Party" half the band took a moment while she did some acoustic songs; a few older ones "Wild" and "City Lights", along with another cover, "California Dreaming". Her incredibly powerful voice probably being heard as far back as the street outside the venue.
The band returned as she finished off the set with some heavy emotional songs, an incredibly intense song called "The Hunter" and finished with the haunting "Rebel", inviting Chersea and Rowed up on stage to take a bow and thank everyone for coming.
I’m not quite sure how it happened, but somehow I haven’t been to see any live music this year, so even though we’re already a month in, two strong locals talents were a great was to musically kick off 2019 (for me, anyway). Their sounds both contrasted and complimented each other nicely, and I look forward to hearing more from both in the future.
I Can't Be You
Man Like You [Patrick Watson cover]
No Waste Of Time
Kings & Queens
It's My Party [Lesley Gore cover]
California Dreaming [The Mamas & The Papas cover]