Gig Review: Zara McFarlane – 18.02.14 @ Band On The Wall

By Tom Leah

As we ambled up to Band On The Wall, it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t written any sort of review or blog entry before. What if I forget something? I should take notes. But wait, I shouldn’t over analyse it. Hang on, I want to enjoy the gig! Aaah! I’m just going to have to bite the bullet and TRY and remember.

The stage was set, coats flung to the floor, Zara McFarlane and her band took to the stage. Within the first few minutes my fumbling thoughts were put to rest. The story of ‘More Than Mine‘ seemed to strike a familiar chord with the audience, featuring a Saxophone solo that encapsulated the sense of frustration of seeing a past love with a new partner. The backdrop for such a story? The unpretentious setting of a supermarket.

Zara’s contemporary cover of Nina Simone’s ‘Plain Gold Ring’ had the audience hanging on every word, daring not interrupt her beautifully sustained final note. The familiar compositional atmosphere of Matthew Halsall flowed through the room with the co-written ‘The Games We Play’, presenting a wonderful combination of styles between two of the big names in modern Jazz.

The highlight of the set for me was a wonderful rendition of Junior Murvin’s ‘Police and Thieves‘, which featured the most timely passing police siren from the world outside, a reminder of the intimate atmosphere that had been so carefully created inside the Band On The Wall.


I was much more relaxed now. There was loads to write about, it was a beautiful gig which would struggle to leave my memory. Actually, maybe there was too much. Oh no! Which parts do I include?! Heather said to keep in relatively concise and here I am writing a minor dissertation on the evenings performance! I just need to conclude then I can call it a day.

It was a beautiful performance, no pretence and an abundance of quality musicianship. A soulful contemporary take on Jazz, right up my street. Nice one Zara McFarlane.



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