Retune In June was our first all-day event and the weather was exceptionally kind to us – it was baking! As with our regular events, Retune in June included live music from 6-9pm, but this time we were lucky enough to add the comedic stylings of Steve Bugeja mid-afternoon, and before that we held an open mic from 1-3pm in the courtyard at The Horn at The Half Moon. It was quite a day.
Tom Ryder and Greg Camburn kicked off the open mic, playing one of Tom’s new songs and a cover of Waiting in Vain by Bob Marley. Tom was then joined onstage by young pianist Kate Malden, for one of Kate’s first ever live performances. Kate was understandably a little nervous but did fantastically well, playing Your Song and She’s The One. Next up was Hitchin’s Steve Warner, performing a lovely cover of Dancing In The Dark by Bruce Springsteen, followed by a couple of well-crafted originals.
Hannah Smith has been a dedicated supporter of Retune since our inception, so it was great to hear her sing some of her own songs accompanied by atmospheric piano. Then Amy Lou took the stage. Amy has wonderful vocal control and also looked very comfortable on the guitar; she had only performed live on piano before this gig.
Not My Circus are Ken and Carley Day, a charming duo with some very pleasing overlapping guitar work. Their song choices were also strong, Ironic by Alanis Morrisette being a highlight. Then it was the turn of Scarlet Thomas, who gave us excellent versions of Bad by Michael Jackson and I Want You Back by The Jackson 5. It was so good to hear her again after she played our August event in 2018.
Jay Williams rounded off the open mic. He too has played for Retune before, at our second show, and is progressing very nicely as an artist. As well as singing the Tracy Chapman classic Talkin’ Bout A Revolution, Jay also showcased material from his recently-released EP 24 Hours.
Although it was initially quite difficult to tear people away from the sun trap in the courtyard and persuade them inside for the next part of the day, once our audience knew that high quality comedy was on the cards, in they went.
Steve Bugeja is heading to the Edinburgh Fringe in August for the fifth time, to roll out his new show Single Mum. Steve’s work is widely acclaimed and he is in the midst of writing a sitcom for ITV; this summer will surely be another huge springboard. He had the audience in the palm of his hand and roaring with laughter from the outset, and the fact that he originates from Bishop’s Stortford enabled him to land some impeccably-timed and very well-received tongue-in-cheek jabs at the town.
Single Mum is packed with gags, charting the ups and downs of Steve’s mum’s life on the dating scene following her divorce. Despite the sensitive subject matter, Steve delivered jokes that were relatable, insightful and very funny. His stage presence is exceptional, and has been boosted by a number of big tours in recent years as well as gigs in Australia and Japan. Like the best comedians, he was able to make a serious and emotional point through humour. If you are at the Fringe this year, you really should check him out.
That brought the afternoon’s proceedings to a close, but we were only getting started! After the succcesses of the day, we moved on to a spectacular evening of live music.
First on for our evening show were sixth form band Monochroma, comprising Bishop’s Stortford High School students Izzy Baker, Libby Slow, Ari Sanozidis, Katy Thomas and Amber Butcher. With four vocals and Ari on guitar, the group have a sound that is all their own, and their songwriting is very impressive, especially on their track Honeybee. They also performed a cover of Skinny Love by Bon Iver featuring some nice harmonies. It is going to be interesting to monitor their musical journey.
American songstress Ciara Vizzard has a beautiful and haunting vocal combined with a delicate guitar-playing style. Her writing is also stellar. She performed new single Hurricane and a number of her earlier tracks including Breathe and Soul Speak. It was wonderful to see Ciara; she travelled all the way from Reading to support Retune In June.
Liverpool lad and guitar-wielding troubadour Joe Slater originates from even further afield. He is wise beyond his years, with a husky vocal that instantly grabs you, and he has a very endearing and individual manner of playing the guitar. His track To The Creator was especially memorable. For his final song he played The Healing Game by Van Morrison and was joined (in very impromptu fashion) by Tom Ryder on backing vocals and Greg Camburn on saxophone. A rousing end to an emphatic set that really left its mark on the audience.
And then it was time for SuRie. Susanna shot to prominence when she competed for the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest in May 2018. But to those who know her from her early days on the Bishop’s Stortford circuit, she was a star long before that. She played songs from her Eurovision Unplugged Tour, a November Rain cover from her concept album Dozen, a mellow version of her ESC song Storm, and she even found time to bring on stage some of her former vocal coaching students Rosie Savage and Billianna Instrall, the latter accompanied by Joe Hazell on guitar. An absolutely spellbinding set from a consummate pro.
That was that! An incredible day that will live long in the memory. Roll on next summer’s all-day show. Special mention has to go to Tom Rountree’s amazing work behind the sound desk all day, Tom Lee on videography, Elliot Porter and Hannah Smith for lending keyboards, the Retune team for ensuring the event ran smoothly and the wonderful audience who turned out for it. See you next time.