Laura Jansen - Bush Hall London
London's Bush Hall has become a fairly prestigious venue for female singer songwriters over the years, with numerous 'big name' recording artistes treading the boards early in their career or returning to play low key special events further down the line. The intimate Shepherd's Bush venue has seen the likes of Amy Winehouse, Alanis Morissette, Duffy, Regina Spektor and Sara Bareilles perform in recent times, so it was no surprise that LA-based Dutch girl Laura Jansen was excited to be following in their footsteps on the Bush Hall stage.
I first became aware of Laura's music via a blog link, falling in love with her "Single Girls" track on first listen as it's one of the most enchanting songs to appear this year. Laura was playing at Bush Hall as support to big bearded, dry humored, gloomy folkie William Fitzsimmons, performing solo with her keyboard as accompaniment.
The last few shows I'd attended at the venue had all been standing only but the Fitzsimmons gig was a seated affair, with several tables set up towards the front of the stage with a large standing section at the back for later attendees. There was also a decent sized gap at the front of the stage so I plonked myself down at the left hand side about twenty minutes before Laura's appearance.
By the time her set kicked off numerous other audience members had flooded down to the front too for a seat on the floor, filling up the section nicely, just in time for Miss Jansen's performance.
Laura has recently released her debut album Bells and her Bush Hall set was pulled from the collection, opening with "Perfect", a perfect set starter and perfect rendition of a beautiful song! I'm not a fan of seated gigs as a rule but one thing they do have in their favour is the fact that people tend to be a bit more aware of noise, treating support acts with a bit of respect by not natterring to each other down the front! Laura had certainly captivated the crowd from the off anyway from where I was sitting and you could see she appreciated the response, telling the Bush Hall patrons that it was a beautiful experience to sit on the stage and play for an audience she'd never played to before as she usually only plays to her Mum and her family!
It's always nice to hear a performer stripping a song down to its bare bones in a live surrounding and Laura continued her solo set with a raw version of "Elijah", a song she wrote about remembering to be a catholic!
Laura produced the title track of her album next, followed by "Wicked World", probably the most upbeat song in her repertoire and a track with the appeal to crossover to a larger audience. She told the crowd that she filmed a video for it anyway so here's hoping it helps her gain a few more fans down the line. She managed to pull off a great rendition of the Kings Of Leon track "Use somebody" after "World". The song actually makes an appearance on Bells. It's admittedly a bit of a hackneyed choice as a cover these days, with everyone and their Auntie performing of it on the live stage. Even American Idol's Brooke White has produced a version on her debut High Hopes and Heartbreak that isn't too dissimilar to Laura's take on the song. I prefer Laura's to Brooke's though. Mind you, I haven't seen Brooke play it live. She'd probably stop the song one verse in and ask the band to start again if her Idol appearances are anything to go by though!
Laura introduced "Single Girls" by regaling the audience with her tale of cutting her own hair two days after breaking up with someone, telling the gents in the crowd that it's seems to be a common occurrence, so if they see a girl with pretty bad hair be extra nice to them! It was the obvious stand out song of the night for me, with the solo rendition delivering one of my fave live moments of 2009.
Laura completed her set with "Soldier", braving the crowd to ask for a bit of audience participation mid song, with finger snapping requested! The audience duly complied. I'm sure she could have asked for more and got it though as she seemed to have really won over the Bush Hall crowd, delivering an excellent support set.
I hung around for a bit of William Fitzsimmons performance as I work for a picture agency so it's always worth snapping away at the headliners. He sang his first few songs solo but was later joined by a full band, including Laura on keyboards. The pair obviously enjoy touring together as there was a lot of humorous banter going on between songs. I actually laughed on numerous occasions at William's patter throughout the evening but his musical output was just a bit too miserable for my liking!
If you shuffle my ipod you're more likely to find Alphabeat, the Glee Season 1 soundtrack and Disney Divas - Miley, Demi and Selena than the likes of messrs Cave, Cohen and some other dour faced bugger whose surname begins with "C" so I'm obviously not Mr Fitzsimmons target audience!
I also had an early start the following morning so like a News Of the World reporter propositioned in a backstreet brothel, I made my excuses and left, picking up a copy of Laura's album on the way out.