Good looks, a treasure chest full of catchy, instantly likeable songs and hordes of loyal fans, what more could a band ask for? Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce to you, the very talented duo that are Hudson Taylor.
Made up of brothers Harry & Alfie Hudson-Taylor, they formed in 2011 after having spent many years busking in Dublin. Born into a musical family, it was abundantly clear that they would follow in the footsteps of their musician father and after a highly successful debut EP ‘Battles’ (reaching the #1 spot on the Irish iTunes chart), they were signed to Polydor where they produced another couple of EP’s. Work on their debut long player ‘Singing for Strangers’ is complete and the finished product will be ready to ship at the end of March.
We were kindly invited along to see them play their first ever headline show in Exeter, who were we to refuse such a kind and gracious offer?
Upon arriving at the Exeter Phoenix Arts Centre, we were surprised to see the auditorium was pretty well packed out, we had heard that the gig had sold out many weeks ago but to see so many people crammed into the room on a Wednesday evening was fantastic.
Opening up the proceedings was Bristol based singer songwriter Amy Yon who played a selection of her own material including a cover version of Lady Gaga’s ‘Paparazzi’, her smooth, smoky vocals being used alongside her acoustic guitar to present a raw, stripped back version of the over produced original. I chatted briefly with Amy before her set and it was apparent that she was suffering with nerves, asking me over and over how many people were in the room and saying that she was not used to playing to so many. Despite my assurances that she’d be fine, she was still a little unsure. I don’t think this was helped by the copious beers that she had quaffed before her performance, nothing like a quick shot of ‘Dutch courage’ to get the adrenalin pumping but over doing it prior to playing in front of a packed auditorium may not have been the best idea of the night. All in all, she faired well, and despite an incident with the microphone stand encountering a bit of a ‘droop’, she was received well by the audience.
Up next was jack Morris, an established Dublin based singer songwriter who showcased his strong voice and precise guitar playing to whip the audience into a frenzy prior to the Hudson-Taylor’s taking over. His tracks included subject matter such as wandering about Cardiff, drunk 'Ballad of the Broken Banjo' to a track that was written whilst wandering around London, stoned 'Alone (and Stoned) in London Town', are you getting an image that this guy knows how to party?
He was accompanied on stage by the super talented Gabrielle Aplin who took time out of writing her second album and learning to crochet to join Jack in singing the song that he wrote whilst wandering around London, stoned. He was later joined by a fiddle player who turned out to be the keyboard/fiddle/3rd guitarist for Hudson Taylor, this really added substance to Jack’s music.
To sum up, Jack was received really well by the audience and I will ask you now to stop what you’re doing, click HERE and ‘like’ his page, the guy has just over 350 followers and he deserves so many more. Whilst you’re on his Facebook page, go check out some of his music, there are some FREE MP3’s that you can download, and who doesn’t like FREE music? I have a feeling that Jack is gonna be a huge name in the coming months, go check him out.
This leads us nicely to the stage being cleared and the guitar tech (lovely Irish guy called Ronan) frantically tuning, checking and preparing over 12 guitars, ready to be used for the main event.
The intro music kicked in, the backing band took to the stage and shortly after, Harry and Alfie Hudson-Taylor trod the boards of the Exeter Phoenix Arts Centre for their first ever headline show in the city. The noise was epic, clearly the front two rows of screaming teenage ladies added to this, causing it only to dissipate when Harry and Alfie launched into their opening track ‘Just a Thought’.
Their set list consisted of some older material but mainly tracks that are to be included on their forthcoming album ‘Singing for Strangers’ (available form March 30th), from the sublime melodies of ‘Weapons’ complete with electric fiddle to the all-out stomp of ‘Don’t Tell Me’, the songs came thick and fast, each one rewarded with a gracious round of applause from the attentive audience. Midway through the set, Harry and Alfie asked for complete silence prior to ‘unplugging’ completely and, stood at the front of the stage, performed a goose-bump rousing acoustic version of ‘Arrive’, this literally bought the house down. They then invited Gabrielle Aplin on stage to join them for a further unplugged version of ‘Beautiful Mistake’, her sublime voice floating over the top of their trademark harmonies.
Alfie took to the keyboard when the band performed ‘Trouble Town’, leaving Harry and the keyboard player to provide the guitar parts, ‘Chasing Rubies’ was well received and when they broke into ‘Back in Black’ by AC/DC, the front row were swept off their feet, it was great to see how the guys added their own twist to this classic rock track. ‘For the Last Time’ saw Harry ditch his guitar, allowing him a little more freedom to wander the stage and get swept away with the song.
After playing ‘Care’, they exited the stage for a few tense minutes whilst the crowd hollered and whooped until they came bouncing back out for more….
Before kicking into ‘Off The Hook’, Alfie took time to introduce and thank the rest of the band, the sound engineer, the monitor man and the guitar tech which I thought was a really nice touch, something you rarely witness but should see a lot more of, so kudos to them for that. They asked Gabrielle Aplin and Jack Morris to join them on stage for ‘Don’t Know Why’, this included audience participation (my favourite) which went down really well with the majority of the audience singing along with Harry. Their last track ‘Battles’ literally set the place on fire, the room was jumping by this stage and it was great to see all the band on stage, clearly having the time of their lives. Once the track ended, the band took a bow, pictures were taken and they thanked the crowd repeatedly for taking the time to come out and see them. Set-lists were crumpled up and thrown into the audience and then, as if by magic, they were gone, leaving a room full of sweaty fans to slowly make their way out of the auditorium and back to their homes, ready for another day in paradise….
Just a Thought
Don't Tell Me
World Without You
Beautiful Mistake (Unplugged with Gabrielle Aplin)
Stranger / Back in Black (AC/DC Cover)
For the Last Time
Off the Hook
Don't Know Why
You can see all of the pictures that we took at the gig, just click on the links below;
Hudson Taylor's debut album 'Singing for Strangers' is released on march 30th, you can buy the album from Amazon (where for a limited time you can lay your hands on a signed copy of the CD), via their website or iTunes
Review by Steve Muscutt
Photographs by Bruce Benson 241Photography