Ren Harvieu

Ren Harvieu

I’m trying to place that voice. It’s smooth and buttery, and you can’t help but notice the audience swoon a little as Ren Harvieu gets on stage. It’s other era-esque, with Forever in Blue playing, the stage would be better off framed with heavy velvet drapes. There’s even the merest hint of Alison Goldfrapp here.

Ren’s got her loyal home following in tonight, with shouts of support coming from friends and family. Her single ‘Open Up Your Arms’ came out two years ago and got Ren well deserved attention. I think Manchester was keen to see more of her, but around that time Ren had a unfortunate accident and broke her back. Tonight she’s fully recovered and making her own show come back with understated confidence to a receptive audience. It’s an older crowd (there’s quite a few over 50s here). There’s two fellas standing side by side making opposite silent requests. Amplify v shush: There’s one fella with hearing aids stood right next to a guy with ear plugs in.

Open Up Your Arms got a lot of radio play and as we all know that can be the kiss of entrapment for a new artist. But hearing her up close I realise there’s a lot to this girl. There’s quite a few high drama songs that impress, ‘Through the Night’ and ‘Walking in the Rain’ are hitting the sweet spot. In-between song chatter, breaks the nostalgic tension, or as Ren rebuffs in Broughton burr, “not another emo moment.” She’s warm, just being herself and slightly unassuming of her wise sounding 60s blues voice.

“When Ed approached me to do this song I knew I had to.” ‘As Love is a Melody’ plays the attentive audience lowers a notch to pin dropping silence. There’s a glimmer beyond her voice and performance charisma, and a gorgeous storytelling knack envelopes the stage. We’re enrapt. And I think to our surprise as much as Ren’s the audience go mad. For a goodly while. Mr Harcourt take note.

There’s heavy nostalgic nods towards Nancy Sinatra and Dusty Springfield. I’m mulling over what Babysham tastes like when I get the nudge to go for a Snowball. “Let’s do some Christmas songs lads!” She’s on a roll. It starts with a “depressing one,” the beautiful ‘River’ by Joni Mitchell, hitting the staggering notes with pitch perfection. Then Joe on guitar joins in with ‘Baby it’s Cold Outside’, much to our amusement the lyric sheets start to hinder more than help. We all join in and go full pelt with ‘Rockin Around the Christmas Tree’. Then, “I’m going to do this one in the key of Judy Garland” – ‘Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas’. And the finale arrives with ‘Fairytale in New York’, a sure-fire festive crowd rouser.

Ren will get a lot of comparisons to bygone singers, you can’t help that with such a lived out voice coming out of a young Salfordian lass. But right now, she really is one of a kind. 2012 was the year she was hotly tipped. Stuff has come up against that happening, but now is great timing to hear this woman. We’re ready to embrace all that she’s got and see her gaining more of the supporters and collaborators that she deserves.

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I'm an indie kid at heart, with a soft spot for thoughtful electronica and a guilty love of pure pop. A break up in the early noughties with a foppish haired 'all about the guitars' boy caused my musical path to diverge out towards Mr Scruff, Ministry of Sound and dance pleasures beyond. Highlights from this year's musical calendar include Sounds From the Other City, Badly Drawn Boy at the Ten album launch, Bjork at MI and when Elbow came home.I design and illustrate so I'm continually perfecting the ultimate work soundtrack to get ideas going: daytime People I'd still like to see: Imogen Heap, Jason Mraz, Brett Anderson and Ghostpoet.Follow me on Twiiter -!/rachaelkearney