This Never Fade Sessions article was written by Hannah Parker, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse.
You’re submerged into an underground darkness, your only light is from the candles in jam jars and a yellow sign that reads ‘THE SOCIAL’. A tall Irishman with a flat cap and moustache that even causes envy of the women in the crowd introduces the night as the first ‘Never Fade Sessions’ that comes from the independent record company entitled Never Fade Records.
Never Fade Records was set up in 2010 by James Barnes and the incredibly talented Gabrielle Aplin, who closed tonight’s show. Their aims as a record company are to give young talent and unsigned artists their first stepping stone in the music industry. Our Irish compare goes on to ask for a quiet and respectful crowd for the new pool of music that is about to ensue this evening. The very intimate space of ‘The Social’ leaves you shoulder to shoulder in the company of people all with a same goal; to find new and brilliant music.
The evening begins with the musical stylings of Mary Spender. Spender is currently releasing a track a month on Spotify and Soundcloud up until the release of her debut album in October. The Bristol based singer/song writer ebbed coolness, with her husky, soulful voice and beautifully bluesy guitar playing.
Mark Elliott followed and captured the hearts of the intimate crowd almost immediately. Elliott, who has just signed a deal with Parlophone and has an EP coming out in March and was nothing short of fantastic. He stood bathed in a green light at his piano, thanking Gabrielle for the opportunity that she’s given him, and stating that “London is the place where dreams are made of.” His set included songs ‘China Doll,’ ‘Absent Grows’ and ‘When I Was Happy’, and with each song that was played came an anecdote of why it came to be written. Mark Elliott was incredibly funny and relatable telling tales to the crowd about past jobs he hated, getting drunk and those days where you don’t want to do anything but sit in a onesie and watch ‘Pretty Little Liars’ on Netflix. This humble, down to earth guy had the whole crowd rolling with laughter in one moment and stunned in silence in the next as his emotional voice broke over lyrics that were clearly heartfelt and raw.
Winters Hill came after Elliott and were a three-piece alternative-folk band who’s harmonicas and cardboard box playing brought a fresh, updated take on the country-folk genre. Someone in the crowd likened them to Mumford & Sons, but there was something purer and more natural about the way these three boys played together. The lead singers husky tones provided this band with a wise and raw feel that can only be seen as completely original. As they introduced their song ‘Shake It Off,’ members of the audience shuffled around thinking they were in for a Taylor Swift cover, however they were silenced immediately with the beautiful lyrics of an original that was released in November.
The next singer left you covered in goosebumps at the sheer power of her voice. Hannah Grace is singer from Wales studying at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. Signed to Never Fade Records by her friend Aplin, Hannah’s powerhouse of a voice left the audience starstruck. Throughout her set Hannah elegantly showed off her incredible vocal range whilst making scatting look as easy as breathing. After each song Hannah preformed the crowd would erupt, it was hard to connect the modest Welsh voice who thanked the audience and Gabrielle for the opportunity with the beautiful belting notes that followed when she sung; watching Hannah get lost in her music was truly magical.
Throughout the entirety of the evening you felt like you were a part of a community, both audience and performer were there to support one another. You felt as if you were watching friends jam in the privacy of their own home rather than at a gig and you couldn’t feel more welcomed. With each act there was an air of professionalism about them and everyone was as important and equal as the other.
Gabrielle Aplin closed the show with a set no longer than the four acts that came before her, and she thanked everyone and confirmed what the audience had already been thinking that the evening had been full of amazing and talented new artists. Aplin, a self-taught musician, sung from her two albums ‘English Rain’ and ‘Light Up The Dark’ and chatted effortlessly with the crowd. The ‘Power of Love’ singer has gone from strength to strength since her success with the John Lewis Christmas advert in 2012.
The 21-year-old’s aim has always been to help the up and coming artists and the evenings show demonstrated this. Gabrielle started her set with the ever popular ‘Panic Cord’ and ‘Please Don’t Say You Love Me’ and was rejoined by Hannah as she closed the evening with a beautiful rendition of ‘Sweet Nothing,’ the room is silent as their voices carry through without the aid or need of their microphones, and The Social comes together one last time as both audience and performer join in clapping and singing during the chorus.
Never Fade Sessions in an event that will showcase new talent every month at The Social in London, and after the success of Monday’s show it is the place to be to find the newest and frankly best talent out in the music industry today.