Having around the same musical IQ as a piece of toast, I was worried I wouldn’t have much to say about the performances of Rita Hosking and Archie Brown at Live Theatre. Fortunately (I hope) this was not the case.
As a writer, I love a good story, and good stories are exactly what I got. A theatre was definitely the right setting for both performances to take place and Archie Brown and the Young Bucks were the first to grace Live Theatre’s Studio stage on Sunday night. Three local guys armed with talent and banter; their set was a pleasure to watch. Their entertaining anecdotes kept us smiling, whilst their music kept us listening. Archie Brown’s gravelly tones were reminiscent of Sting and his charming personality channelled its way into his voice onstage.
Their music seemed to hold a prolific sense of personality and history within its lyrics, my personal favourite from their set was Robert’s Song, written about and dedicated to a former band member who died at only 27 years old. The song was deeply moving and the lyrics were both emotional and affectionate, it seemed to make the band’s sense of unity more apparent.
What I loved most about Archie Brown’s set was the fun the band had onstage, they had a great time, and so did we.
Next up was Rita Hosking. Rita is from Northern California and she is currently touring the UK with her husband Sean who accompanies her onstage. Having not heard of Rita before the show I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I remained open minded as they stepped onto the stage. As soon as Rita starts to sing, I am blown away. Any tension in the room melts as we all succumb to her beautiful, soothing vocals. She is completely at home on the stage and I can’t see any trace of nerves.
Not only is Rita a talented singer, she is also an exceptionally skilled songwriter. She writes all of her own music and before every song she introduces it with detail and shares her inspiration behind writing it, this gave the whole experience a far more personal touch. Each song was carefully constructed and filled with her passion for music and life. Her lyrics are inspired by her spirituality, she explained to us that she writes most passionately about home and places she has lived and loved.
Many of Rita’s songs are autobiographical; I felt I knew a great deal about her life and culture by the end of the set. We learn of Rita’s time as a maid, of her friends and her Native American roots and the culture surrounding it. The music was poignant and it made a deep connection with the audience; we were often silenced by the eloquence of her words combined with the stunning vocals onstage.
Rita and Sean have an unspoken connection both onstage and off, their chemistry is obvious. They share laughs and knowing looks and neither is fazed when half way through the performance one of their many instruments falls flat on its face with a crash.
Even after a long show and an exhausting tour, Rita and Sean were more than happy to be interrogated at pen point. I was keen to find out about their musical inspirations. Rita tells me she grew up on American Country artists like Stevie Nicks and Loretta Lynn whilst Sean mentions a love for The Beatles and David Bowie. They are so down to earth and tell me about their two children, who are staying at home with their grandmother. ‘I’m sure they’re spending their time cleaning the house…’ Rita points out sarcastically. Their eldest daughter Kora is taking after her mother and also sings, featuring on a track in Rita’s latest album Little Boat.
I thoroughly enjoyed Rita Hosking’s performance at Live Theatre, as well as meeting Rita and Sean after the show. Controlled and poetic, the soulful performance resonated with me on many levels. I will certainly be adding them to my ever growing music collection and I suggest you do the same.
by Alex Woolley @woolleyjumper1
March Guest Blogger