Live Review: Saint Saviour / Amelia Coburn – Georgian Theatre, Stockton 28.03.2024

Craig Young

‘Amelia Coburn’ was an interesting choice to support Saint Saviour on this mini tour, both artists are North East born and bred and have both recently released albums helped by Bill Ryder Jones. Taking the stage to little aplomb a ukulele was all she needed to enrapture those who had turned up early enough to witness her brand of northern folk.

Coburn has one hell of a voice and from the first track, ‘When The Tide Rolls In’ a recent single and album opener, she quickly earned her place in front of tonight’s crowd. A crowd that was a pleasant mixture of local folk with plenty of smiles on faces after tonight’s opening act. Commenting that she was a warm up act tonight she moved onto some more upbeat tracks.

Tracks rolled on ‘Nodding Dog’, a favourite from tonight’s set, demonstrated Coburn’s poetic talent and knack for storytelling. Introducing her songs with comments about their meaning or how each came about, such as ‘Dublin Serenade’ painting the picture of Coburn as a young student wandering a cold dark Dublin rather than splashing out on a hotel for the night.

Coburn ended her set with ‘Oh Captain! Guide Me Home’ getting the audience involved as they clapped to the beat. Something that they needed a little help with at the start but by the end, many were even joining in with the lyrics. Colburn left a lot of smiles in the room tonight.

She has recently had some comments on X about her northern voice not quite suiting her music. However tonight both went hand in hand to craft something memorable which no doubt earned her some new fans. I can only imagine how good she will sound with a full backing band.

Saint Saviour on record is a wonder of intricate melodies, gentle breathless vocals and tracks with a strong soul. Transferring that into the live arena and keeping the same vibe seems like a long shot yet Rebecca Jones, the talent behind Saint Saviour, manages to do it exceptionally well and with a limited band at her disposal.

Somewhat of a homecoming gig for Jones who was born in Stockton, this mini tour took in London and Manchester as well as Stockton, and was her first headline gig for 9 years. Backed by a guitarist, bassist and drummer, Jones flipped between keyboard, synths and box accordion, microphone cable whipping about.

The bassist was often seen wielding a bow à la Jimmy Page, the drummer offered some fantastic control and expressive drumming mixed with the intricate guitar playing. The musicians behind her helped shape her studio recordings and make them fit for the live setting. Tracks like ‘Be Gentle’ from her new album were tweaked into a more bossanova style and ‘Bee’ featured a gorgeous solo where Jones was left with her box accordion and her emotive vocals to spread throughout the room.

Opening with ‘Butterfly’, Jones introduces tonight telling the audience that tonight will be full of songs from her new album ‘SunSeeker’ and previous album ‘Tomorrow Again’. Tracks from both albums blend seamlessly together, ‘A Picture Is All I Have’ from Sunseeker flowing nicely into ‘Paris’ from ‘Tomorrow Again’. ‘John’ with its jazzy guitar noodling which was written for her son was performed tonight along with ‘Bee’ for her daughter, the former from her previous album and the letter from the new album.

So quiet at times you could hear the click of the guitarist’s pedals, and somewhat annoying drunks talking, but the atmosphere crafted tonight was something that Stockton hadn’t witnessed in some years. Ending on the album opener ‘Better Than’ no encore was offered the house lights came on and we headed back to reality.

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