I met Kim Churchill in a bar in Perranporth, Cornwall, we chatted briefly and I was gutted that I couldn't have stuck around to catch his set. He told me that he was currently on tour and handed me a flyer with dates and venues, on the list was The Cavern Club in Exeter, somewhere we have worked a lot in the past year and a great intimate venue that would really allow Kim to showcase his talent, it was a date!
I arrived at the venue early in order to carry out an interview with Kim, it soon transpired that he was having some issues with the sound so that was put off until later. Soon after, the issue had been resolved and Kim managed to soundcheck successfully prior to nipping out to meet the promoter and grab a bite before his set.
The doors opened at 8pm, and the place was full within 20 minutes, something very rare for anywhere to achieve on a school night in the middle of October! Either people had heard wonderful things about Kim Churchill or there was a beer sale at the bar (it turned out to be people hearing good things about Kim!)
First to take to the stage was a Newton Abbot based solo artist called Alice Jemima, her mix of honest lyrics, sung from the heart, coupled with her brilliant guitar playing really had the crowd captivated. She played tracks such as ‘First Love’ and ‘Home’, backed with nice mellow breakbeats that she had created herself. During a track called ‘No More’ which was all about difficulties in a relationship, her voice seemed to float over the beat, creating an almost ethereal effect.
She then played a cover version of Blackstreet’s famous (and well covered track) ‘No Diggety’ which stopped the room in its tracks and demanded people’s attention, taking people to an almost trance like state. Her take on this popular classic has garnered over a million ‘listens’ on social media platform Soundcloud, deservedly so, it’s an amazing version and I urge you to check it, I have even embedded the track below so you can listen to it NOW.
‘Only One’ bought in some quite dark, low key beats that were accompanied by some atmospheric keys, her voice holding out well, so far so good! To end the night, she decided she was going to tackle a song that she had tried to do in her soundcheck but owing to her voice, couldn’t, ‘Diamonds and Bones’ followed, executed perfectly.
I really enjoyed Alice Jemima’s set and I look forward to seeing her play again soon. She was suffering from the tail end of a cold and apologised to the audience (not that we would have noticed unless she mentioned it!) for a less than perfect performance, if this was her playing at half mast, imagine the power and effect when firing on all cylinders! Definitely a name to watch out for in the future.
Kim Churchill hails from a town on the far South coast (or Sapphire Coast) of New South Wales, Australia where he admits to having to adhere to the 3 golden rules;
1. Be a great surfer
2. Be a great rugby player (something Kim wasn’t)
3. Wash dishes at the local café (The Waterfront)
You could tell from the outset that this was going to be a fun night!
Twenty minutes prior to Kim’s stage time, he approached me barefoot, to join him in the ‘Green Room’ to carry out the interview that he was unable to do earlier in the evening, I grabbed my stuff and followed him. We set up and had a good chat about everything from surfing, touring, towelling bath robes and haggis....
Kim took to the stage bang on time, said hello to the capacity crowd and thanked them for coming out on a Wednesday night and launched straight into ‘Single Spark’ which set the scene perfectly for the rest of the evening.
‘Canopy’ sounded brilliant, the way the track built up, layering very slowly until the song erupted into a stomping frenzy that the crowd reacted to really well.
Kim’s acoustic guitar sounded great with oodles of fuzz and distortion and this lent itself really well to his cover version of Led Zeppelin’s ‘The Lemon Song’, giving him the bluesy edge that the song demands, this really got the crowd rocking and they showed their appreciation with a lengthy bout of screaming and whistling at the end.
The remainder of Kim’s set consisted of more stripped back acoustic tracks with some amazing fingerpicking, sublime vocals and ingenious use of harmonics and guitar body percussion which I would liken to the output of Totnes local hero Ryan Keen. Standout tracks for me included ‘Window to the Sky’ and ‘Fear the Fire’, both lifted from his latest album Silence/Win, available to buy now.
His ‘between song banter’ was brilliant, he has a natural ability of engaging the crowd whilst tuning his guitar and even selecting the correct harmonica! Some of the tales he told were intriguing, especially one about when a company booked him to play in a bar on a French Polynesian island, literally dropping him off there and then ferrying people to the bar to watch him play, he said this was the only entertainment that the local residents got so the bar was always packed out.
Kim’s ingenious use of guitar, harmonica, bass drum and percussion gives the effect that he has an entire band up on stage with him, amazing that one man can create such a blend of sounds and styles! I particularly liked his guitar playing style, opting sometimes to use his left hand over the fret-board rather than under it, very unique.
Kim left the stage to rapturous applause, grabbed a drink and jumped back on the stage to play one more song which consisted of half of his own and half of Bob Dylan’s ‘Homesick Subterranean Blues’ which started off as a normal track and was then sped up to record breaking levels prior to him breaking back into his own track prior to ending.
Kim never stops working, straight after the show, he met with fans for photos and autographed CD’s (courtesy of a very sales orientated guy called Graham who did a sterling job of peddling his wares).
Kim will soon embark on a tour where he supports the local Devon folk music legend Seth Lakeman prior to heading off to Canada and finally Australia where he’ll be staying for Christmas and to see in 2015 (you can see what he has to say about new years resolutions in the interview we did which will be online shortly).
Tickets are available from his Website along with loads more information about this amazing, talented and very enticing Aussie ‘One Man Band’....
Review by Steve Muscutt
The Cavern Club in Exeter has been hosting amazing live acts since 1991, for a list of events coming up at the venue, click HERE