The Word Alive
The Cellar, Southampton, UK - 1/12
The Revival TourPrevious Next
support Chuck Ragan + Rocky Votolato + Jay Malinowski + Emily Barker + Cory Branan
author AP date 25/10/12 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN
Guest review written by Iben Gwen Tollan
In 2008, The American singer-songwriter Chuck Ragan started the musical collective "The Revival Tour", which consists of a line-up of various musicians who create a common platform. Not only does it give the other musicians a good chance to come forward and be heard - but also the dynamics between them are top notch. The multinational collection of amazing singers / storytellers with the American Cory Branan in front, Emily Barker from Australia, the Canadian Jay Malinowski and Texan Rocky Votolato, are all very different yet also have various similarities.
In 2010 the band toured across Australia, and put on a grand concert in Las Vegas, which triggered a five-star review from Kerrang!, Britain's biggest rock magazine – a complete contradiction to Thursday's concert at Beta's small, intimate venue, where the band was able to play an extremely intense and touching concert to what surely must have been some of the smallest crowds they've ever had. Nonetheless, they still managed to get the audience to sing the choruses and got many, and long applauses.
This huge array of musicians interwoven in a whole and utterly unique concert with a strong line-up of 10 members in total, enlarges, replants, melts and lets the music flow into one. After having started the concert together, they each sang one song with the backing band together, followed by each performer’s own set alone with the band. Chuck Ragan finished with a bang and all the singers returned to sing together again, and finished beautifully.
And beautiful is an important word for The Revival Tour - in addition to the varying goose bumps and guilty pleasures, these people are beautiful outside as well as inside - touching you not only with their external performance, and the extremely sympathetic strings that are part of almost every number, but also stirring you by the heartfelt stories, such as in Chuck Ragan’s duet with Emily Barker; “Geraldine” Or Emily Barker's own “Letters” - a story of her grandparents’ separation during the war.
However, it is unavoidable to note that Chuck Ragan stood out just a little on stage - you knew his songs best, you knew who he was, and you may have come to hear your favorite song of his. There is no doubt that the cause of the Revival Tour comes straight from his heart, and the message is very rewarding, but there is no doubt that he is something of a main name.
You definitely want to hear Ragan as we know him, and you did, but you also got the opportunity to see and hear his gentler and softer sides, as he in a fitting way kept to the background in many numbers, just putting in a final touch to some of the already quiet and beautiful songs - a contrast that got noticed in addition to some of Ragan’s earlier music. And all though I would say that there were almost a little too many slow ones, there were many songs that were very rhythmic with smacks and clicks mixed with strings, almost creating a whole new sound that seemed to sound quite innovative, and which it was next to impossible to stand still to.
Although the concert at times seemed to be a bit long, it seemed refreshing that there was a shift in artists and how they took part in each other's songs, and everyone went on and off the stage throughout the entire evening. They seemed to be in high spirits and you felt close to them and warmly received when they toasted, spoke to us and shouted at each other behind the black curtain behind the stage. Nice and very human was how the band presented themselves on Beta; Ragan even went to the bar several times during the concert and sat at their merch table after the show and had a good talk, signed autographs, and seemed to genuinely enjoy himself.
Cory Branan’s somewhat long storytelling songs were not only lengthy, but also quite exciting – the man not only clearly held a talent in what he was doing, but managed to genuinely beat up his guitar. Despite somewhat of a strict cold, he managed to really provide a unique part of the show with his personal and charming style.
Beautiful Emily Barker made herself well noticed in this group of men. With her soft enchanting voice and calm being, she truly charmed her way into everyone's hearts. With different stories and tunes of the challenges of life, not only did she sing beautifully alone, but truly put a cherry on top of many songs of the other artists.
Canadian Jay Malinowski provided a somewhat different show than the rest, delivering a sound that struck you in a positive way, and couldn’t really seem to wrap your head around – it was familiar and yet new, leaving you with a feeling of wanting to hear more of this unique voice and special genre.
Rocky Votolato really shook up the floor using his whole body, creating a rhythm and energy you couldn’t possibly stand still to. Votolato was definitely one of the artists that gave in a little more power to the show, in the sense of having a little more ‘go’ and strength in his songs. He fit beautifully in the build-up of artists, ending with Chuck Ragan himself.
Chuck Ragan held the same energy and talent as he has done for many years. It is truly obvious that this man has found a way to create genius music not only alone, but also with other artists, still having a somewhat normal life and being down to earth – making it about the music and not about himself as a person. I will forever and always admire the his voice and songwriting skills and therefore his music will always be a big part of my life. His best songs of the evening – in my opinion – were “The Boat” and “California Burritos”.
The Revival Tour is an ensemble in which the participating musicians collaborate and create unique and inspiring once-in-a-lifetime moments of brilliance. They are each talented to an extreme point, but I must say that the functioning of the joined numbers does not only make you forget about everyday troubles, but also makes your heart and soul gallop with joy.
Overall grade for the show: