And so to the final show of a sensational first year for Retune. OK, so it was barely December, but we needed no excuse to offer free homemade mince pies to our guests, which added to an already mouth-watering evening of live music.
Despite the festivities and family celebrations, Christmas is a particularly challenging time for mental health, and a time when we reflect on those who are no longer with us as well as cherishing those who are. Statistically, it is a peak time for hospital admissions, and the dark winter days can lead to difficulties. This was the message passed on by founder Tom Ryder and director Greg Camburn at the start of the night. Another message we are keen to emphasise is that Retune exists in order to normalise but not glamorise the conversation around mental wellbeing. Mental health has almost become ‘trendy’ in recent times and there has been an element of bandwagon-jumping. It’s important that we remember the seriousness of emotional health, and the importance of compassion, and of lending a friendly ear.
Tom called up Retune colleague Fionnuala Shakespeare for a rousing rendition of Fairytale Of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, an ever-popular Christmas tune and one that always manages to bring out the seasonal spirit.
First on the bill was Zoe Wren, who could quite easily have been headlining the night, and delivered instant quality. Zoe is a London Underground busker by day and has had an exceptional year, highlighted by her appearance at the acclaimed Cambridge Folk Festival. She is also a regular at Hitchin Folk Club, a guaranteed benchmark of excellent musicianship. Her songs were a delight to behold, experimenting with various guitar tunings that were pleasing on the ear, and her charming in-between-songs patter was both humorous and sincere. Like her fellow Folkstock-er Minnie Birch, Zoe has spent time delivering sessions in prisons, and her wide-ranging musical experiences have led to some fascinating subject matter, including tracks ‘She’s A Highwayman’ and ‘Don’t Touch My Guitar’. Her vocal is enchanting, and her set was the ideal opening to the show.
Anglo-Austrian alt-country duo Two Ways Home comprise Isi from Vienna and Lewis from Gloucester. Despite their different backgrounds, the pair come together seamlessly with tight harmonies and compelling songwriting, and the banter they have onstage between songs had the audience grinning from the outset. Their sound is well-drilled and tight, and we are all looking forward to their debut album on the back of three strong EPs. They are a formidable force in the burgeoning UK Country scene, and a strong 2019 surely awaits.
Ffion Rebecca is the youngest headliner we have had at Retune so far, at 18-years-old. She travelled down from her uni at Leicester to make this show, and just about made it in time while contending with nightmarish M11 traffic! Despite her youth, her charisma and stage presence are undeniable. Her songs also demonstrate maturity beyond her years, both melodically and lyrically. Special mention has to go to her guitarist and bassist, who stepped in at short notice and delivered her material with poise and style. Ffion’s voice is delicate and full of sass in equal measure, and it was difficult for the audience to take their eyes off her; she had them in the palm of her hand. If her talent is nurtured and developed over the coming years, she could go very far indeed.
And so ended our final show of the year, another wonderful treat for the ears and eyes, and for the soul too. We are back on 3rd February 2019 and we will be trialling a ‘free entry – pay what you can’ policy next year in order to widen access to more guests. Retune will have six live shows next year, and we will be concentrating on other areas too such as school sessions and online content.
We hope you have enjoyed coming along to these gigs as much as we have loved putting them on. Long may it continue. #music #mindfulness