Review: Chris Helme, The Bodega
Cast your minds back to those heady mid-nineties days of what was known as Brit pop. Oasis and Blur ruled the roost and, despite some classic tunes, The Stone Roses had disbanded.
But the Roses guitarist John Squire ploughed on and cobbled together another motley crew called The Seahorses.
Plucked from the obscurity of busking outside Woolworths, young singer-songwriter Chris Helme became the front man of this new group of aqua-equines, and their singular album Do It Yourself spawned three hit singles.
Roll on almost two decades and Helme, a seemingly down-to-earth Yorkshireman, carries none of the trappings of a once-hailed shining light of chart music heroes.
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Upon his stool, in his own four piece band, Helme appears comfortably at ease playing to a small, but appreciative, crowd.
Throughout the hour long set his voice is measured, yet powerful, so that ballads are clear and crisp while rockier tunes are delivered well, but not too forcefully.
His easy-going nature is welcomed among an audience of mainly thirty-somethings, who realised the gig needed to respect a 10pm curfew, and encouraged Chris to fit as much into the set as he could.
Despite a personal disappointment that none of The Seahorses big hits got an airing, Helme's offerings from his latest album The Rookery were both interesting and enjoyable.
Supported by assured soloist Sam Jones and an exceptional, yet flu-ridden, trio of Heavy Heads, this was a somewhat understated, yet social, Saturday night's entertainment.