Becca Stevens Band
(PizzaExpress Dean Street, 4th March 2013. Review by Sebastian Scotney)
This was a great gig. And Band on the Wall, Manchester, tonight, the final leg of an extensive European tour, will be spectacular. One person wrote on Twitter last night: “Becca Stevens gig was totally incredible. one of the tightest bands I’ve ever seen.” Seeing a band which has just developed the confidence of its individual sound, tried and tested its new songs on the road is very special. Becca Stevens, with Liam Robinson (piano accordion,vocals, smart patter), Chris Tordini (bass, vocals), Jordan Perlson (drums) are a totally convincing, seamlessly organized unit.
What genre is it? The most helpful thing I’ve seen written elsewhere to date, is that the band have found “a sweet spot where jazz phrasing and improvisation meet classic acoustic folk harmonic structure and indie rock panache”. There’s more in a little feature with a Q and A in the Daily Telegraph from last weekend. All four members of the band went through jazz education. But, rather than feeling the imperative to explore the jazz repertoire, what that tuition has given them is the right, the permission, the means to explore the music they want to. They do originals, they do Usher, Morrissey, Stevie Winwood (Higher Love, new that one) covers, they have a three-part alt. folk vocal harmony thing, which is unafraid of the canonic and the contrapuntal, the semitone cluster – or the simple and spacious – trusting themselves to range from the impossibly quiet and wispy to the very emphatic with complete assurance and control all the way through the gears.
Back to that genre thing. You really need one? OK. You’re on, I’ve got one. Can we just agree to call it Appalachian Contrôlée? Whatever it was, it was pure pleasure from start to finish.