It feels like a very long time since seeing live music in a proper environment and I guess it has but seeing Elles Bailey at the Harlington in Fleet yesterday felt both natural and exciting at the same time.

Throughout the lockdown Ms Bailey has been busy. Writing songs, making a radio program, having a baby and recently releasing singles at a pace. I’d been looking forward to seeing her and my anticipation was all the more raised by reports of storming sets at shows all over Blighty. Thankfully, she was all that those reports had promised.

With Joe Wilkins, her ever dependable sidekick, on guitars, the redoubtable Jonny Henderson on Hammond, Matthew Jones on drums and Matthew Waer on bass, Bailey was surrounded by a superb band and that allowed her full rein to take centre stage – no hiding behind her electric piano – and she really does grab the eye, a very natural performer.

The set was a surprise. A lot of new material drawn from the new album that is due in February and the current EP – often a kiss of death but the capacity crowd lapped them up.
‘Cheats & Liars’, the previous single, went down a storm and ‘Walk Away’, a real tearjerker from the current ‘Sunshine City EP, was simply fabulous with her smokey voice really getting the emotive side across.
Old favourite ‘Medicine Man’ got a lot of hands clapping and ‘Sunshine City’ – a celebration of a night on the razz in Bristol - was a treat played live.

The band was cooking with Joe Wilkins slide guitar really setting the music alight and Jonny Henderson’s keys a perfect accompaniment.

Support was from a stripped down Eddy Smith and the 507 – only a three piece acoustic set – and Eddy’s soulful and dark vocals really warmed the crown up. Their combination of Soul and Country is delightful. A band I really do want to see again, especially in their full format.

A really good afternoon in Hampshire, Elles Bailey showing exactly why she is tipped for so many awards and a new act that really excited.