Cold Specks @ Hoxton Hall, London
Watch the foundations! Emily Kendrick is blown away by the voice that is Cold Specks
The owners of Hoxton Hall must have had this in mind when they imagined the performances their stage could host. Draped in surrounds of lavish velour curtains, enshrouding a softly-lit ensemble of red and cream, the live entity of Cold Specks is a picture postcard.
‘When The City Lights Dim’ presents a poised, staggering guitar, and Al Spx growling soul of a voice retains all the crackle her debut promised. Her voice a texture all it's own, gripping you between softness and strength. The track’s bluesy chorus eases in the rest of the group, laid out on different levels for visual, as well as musical depth. Of which those velvety sub notes of saxophone, which seem barely audible on record, are tonight adding steely legs to the 10-piece.
Whilst inconceivable that Hoxton Hall has the dimensions for 11 on stage, there they stand: singer, 4 backing voices, bassist, 2 sax/horns, piano, drummer, lead guitar. The backing quartet – composed partly from members of Hatcham Social – make for a Punch and Judy spectacle as their entrances involve popping up and folding back down in sequence. For that scale you would expect pomposity but what we get is breath and patience and reverence. The perfect platform is set for when Spx really belts it out.
A confident stride from its humbler beginnings, ‘Holland’ is a masterpiece; you can feel its limbs awakening. And when the finale comes it’s gigantic.
Her final number comes with a request for "roar", so that she warrants an encore. Bonnie Prince Billy’s ‘Goodbye Dear Old Stepstone’ marks the set closure, and it is as unbelievable as it is unamplified. On the measure of this evening, the owners of Hoxton Hall had better be insured for structural weakening - from her voice alone.