Charlotte Church, Monto Water Rats, London
This set of extraordinary vocal chords might finally have shaken off her ‘Voice of An Angel’ image. Plagued, as many child stars are, by the impression she made aged 12 as an apple-cheeked cutey with the ability to fill the Albert Hall with smitten grannies, Church has tried to break the mould less successfully several times: as a pop singer, tabloid darling, chat show host and actress.
But aged 26, and filled with moral outrage, Church has embraced her dark side with a host of new material which sets her operatic abilities against growling guitars. The reason for her anger? Us pesky journalists. Fresh from an impressive performance at the Leveson Inquiry, Church is on a mission to continue setting the record straight. “Mr. The News” is a wailing anthem written for Rupert Murdoch. In it, her banshee shrieking and the repeated words “you’ve hit the bottom,” suggest her feelings for the media mogul might be less than friendly.
She introduces another song “Judge from Afar” with the explanation: “This is a song I wrote after reading an article in the Daily Mail online which didn’t have much truth in it. And then I stupidly read the comments underneath it, and got very angry.” The song is a sizzling, powerful tirade, showcasing a vocal range that goes up and up and up and up. At the end she collapses on the stage, apparently exhausted, and apologises: “Oh crikey! That’s a hard one to sing”.
Dressed casually in jeans and a white shirt, her hair mussed and tied away from her face in a loose bun, Church appears confident, in command and relaxed. She may have released a ‘best of’ album at the tender age of 16, but a decade later the maturity of her voice is finally coming into line with the maturity of her presence.
This might have something to do with the intimacy of the setting. Monto Water Rats is a small pub venue, admitting only a couple of hundred. It is a fringe choice, on an entirely fringe tour of her new EP O N E, released on her own label Alligator Wine Records.
Church’s new indie sound doesn’t always work. There are times, in fact, when it seems entirely incongruous to the purity of her voice, and the lyrics leave something to be desired. But she belts them out like a pro, face screwed up with passion. A rock singer with perfect vibrato.
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