Live reviews

Stephen Fretwell - The Charlotte, Leicester

Stephen Fretwell may be best described as music's best kept secret. A singer/songwriter of the tender age of just 23 is not just the lone musician as his title may suggest, but instead is accompanied by 3 similarly aged friends who he either grew up with, or bumped into on his travels to the big smoke of the North-west's metropolis. This time, almost a year after the release of their album, Magpie, did the four musicians find their way, for the first time, to Leicester and its Charlotte to play what turned out a relatively brief set of well trodden songs from the album and a taster of what is to come.

The venue tonight had attracted a healthy crowd, buoyed I am certain by the city's intake of students, high on the start of a new year. We had been given to understand that the final of tonight's act's and the headline of this evening's entertainment would be onstage at 10.30pm and as the hands on my watch squeezed past the half hour, Stephen appeared, alone, greeted the audience and played, a hush fell across the crowd as the sound of an acoustic guitar fractured what had earlier been a throng of voices. This was magical and somewhat confusing, as we were led to believe this would be a full band, but as this first number closed, Stephen introduced John, Matt and J and proceeded into a set of songs tried and tested from their debut album.

As we were led into sounds that were crisp, melodic and somewhat hypnotising the quartet settled into this town they had made home for the 45 or so minutes they were to be onstage and played these songs that had quickly become standards, those of Emily, Run and the soon to be released New York. I'd defy anyone to pass by without turning their head toward the sound of this band. I had digested their album for some six weeks now and was encouraged by the fact they were every bit as good in the flesh, inviting us all into their world as we stood and watched the performance.

Nick James


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