The Joy Formidable & Rox Live

For Levi's Craft Of Music
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There are a lot of puzzled faces peering through the large windows of Regent Street’s Levi’s Store, all trying to work out what’s going inside. Some Japanese tourists even take pictures, presumably unaware of who it is they’re capturing on their cameras. What they don’t know, though, the people inside do – that tonight is the first in a series of intimate and personal gigs put on by Clash and Levi’s to showcase some of the UK’s best new talent.

First up is Rox, whose debut album ‘Memoirs’ came out in June last year. Accompanied by just one pianist/guitarist, who switches between the two instruments, her songs tonight are tender
and touching, full of a melancholy soul that’s carried in her incredible, perfect vocals. A slowed-down, minor chord rendition (for the first time ever) of ‘My Baby Left Me’ is mesmerising, but it’s a beautiful and touching cover of Seal’s ‘Crazy’, dedicated to Japan and the victims of that morning’s earthquake, that steals the show. Reinvented as one of her own songs, it’s a perfect demonstration of her considerable talent.

It’s a tough act for The Joy Formidable to follow, but, surfing on a wave of attention and hype, they’re clearly up for the challenge. Tonight, the Welsh trio (who are now based in London) perform stripped down acoustic versions of songs from their recently released first full-length, ‘The Big Roar’. Although they’re unplugged, the likes of ‘Austere’ and ‘Whirring’ still fizzle with a spike, feisty verve. Singer Ritzy Bryan might, like her two bandmates, be seated, but her charisma is still able to fill the bustling, busy room. Having flown in from Europe especially for this gig, and flying out the next day to head to SXSW in Austin, you could forgive them for being a little tired and disengaged, but they’re not in the slightest. In fact, the intimate setting creates a wonderful sense of openness which their songs, stripped down and raw, really thrive on.

Both artists also take part in a Q&A with the BBC’s Jen Long, explaining the process of their songwriting craft to a crowd who, if they’re brave enough, are also able to ask their own questions. It’s a nice touch, elevating this above being just a normal gig to something that those present will remember for a long time. As for those looking in from the outside – they’ll have to apply for tickets well in advance for the next one!

For all the live footage from the night and all other Levis Craft Of Music gigs please visit www.leviscraftwork.com

Words by Mischa Pearlman

Stay up to date with all of the happenings with Levi's Craft Of Music, and get free tickets to future events, by visiting the Levi's Craft Of Music Facebook page HERE.

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