Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop

Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop

– RNCM, MANCHESTER –

It’s like stepping through an upper-middle-class portal tonight, as the Royal Northern College of Music’s or RNCM for short, has its patrons ushered and halted and directed through doors and hallways. Holding wine in their hands, the RNCMs patrons, no more than utter a whisper throughout the performance, as Sam Beam sarcastically quips “wow, I can hardly hear myself think in here”. It’s probably not the most usual set-up for Folk Alternative outfit Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop, it must feel very different for them; quieter, and altogether more uptight with no rowdy crowds, a-pushing and a-shoving, but they completely make it their own. It feels half-like a music gig and half-like a comedy set. It’s unusual yet entertaining on both fronts.

The collaboration between cliché described Iron & Wine’s bearded American singer-songwriter, Sam Beam, and UK-based Manchester-residing American singer-songwriter (…and breathe) Jesca Hoop, is, flawless. The honey and milk mixture of Beam’s honeyed voice and Hoop’s milky husk of a voice, interchange between the milk and the honey, with each becoming the other. It’s all so very sweet and sultry with an alluring hypnotic bewitchment that enchants the audience; which may explain the often mesmerized silence. The seamless transition between Hoop’s music, Beam’s music, their collaborative music and musical covers is easy, there’s hardly any distinction between whose song is whose. There’s their own fervent opener ‘Kiss Me Quick’, Beam’s rosy Iron & Wine tune ‘Belated Promise Ring’ with a harmonious Hoop lifting the mood, and then there’s Hoop’s quirky ‘Hunting My Dress’. Not to mention crowd pleasing Bee Gees cover ‘Islands In The Stream’, with which they are quick to apologise for, in case it does not live up to the expectations of the original. Their music intertwines with each other’s just as much as their voices entwine together.

As duets go, their vocal entanglement is immaculate. They loop, twirl, and encircle the other without a knot in sight. The fluidity of their harmonies makes them made for each other. It’s a welcome change to often mismatched and forced partnerships. And their stage presence shows to display their ardent talent and friendship together. With Beam professing soaring ‘City Bird’ as the song of Hoop’s that first appealed to him, and drew him to her to work together, declaring it as “beautiful”. Really though their songs are consistently beautiful, and the collaborative effort of their album ‘Love Letter For Fire’ is just so.

For me, on the whole, the pair’s album is so much better listened to and watched live, between their stripped back simplicity and effortless familiarity, they’re captivating. Through the camaraderie of Beam and Hoop, the complementary voices and the synchronous singing, the faultless performance is just that, faultless, for me it was, anyway. So much so, it was almost like asking a friend to stay for just one more drink by the end of the night, to ensure they came back to play their final encore song and their recently released stunning Eurythmics cover, ‘Love Is A Stranger’. With which they string us up and pull us in, and then roll us out into the night.

Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop  Official

Danielle Kenneally

Silent Radio enthusiast: Silent Radio News Editor. Silent Radio Newsletter Editor. Silent Radio Reviewer. Dangerous Panda over and out.