Emma Ruth Rundle


Due to unforeseen circumstances on my way to the event, the first support act I get to see tonight is Jaye Jayle, comprising of Evan Patterson and backing band. They appear in the cavernous basement of the Soup Kitchen, illuminated only by soft orange light, emitted by two lonely bulbs, one flickering to its own beat, until the bassist gives it a bit of a smack to bring it back in line. It sets the tone nicely for the sombre drones that comprise their set, driven by the march of drums on a stripped back kit. The toms reverberate throughout your body as the synths and guitar swirl in a complex, muddy clamour. It’s a morose set, as can be expected from drone like music, but it is broken up by the jokey, “This one goes out to our driver, it’s about dying in a car crash”. Eye contact is rare as the band look downwards in a trancelike state throughout the noise. We only get a glimpse of the drummer’s face upon a swig of his beer, but there’s still a connection with the audience through the trance, and a grand experience.

Emma Ruth Rundle comes on stage to a glorious number of whoops, applause and calls of “I love you”. It is one of the first gigs in a long time I have had the pleasure of being at the front for, and so I can’t see the audience. However, the elated cheers are a giveaway that everyone here is fully enthused. Emma is joined on stage by all of Jaye Jayle, barring the drummer. He has been replaced by an enthusiastic young musician who, despite the melancholic content of the majority of Emma’s set, bounces around in giddiness, appearing overjoyed to be playing on stage with Emma.

Emma has a powerful stage presence. When not striking the guitar, bellowing chords and soundscapes across the room, she is animated in her gestures towards the crowd and beyond, propelling the lyrics and emotion outwards, towards the eager gathering. It is a short set at an hour long, in which the crowd acts as timekeepers to get as many songs in as possible, but the impact will be long felt. Highlights are ‘Marked for Death’ and ‘Shadows of My Name’. The whole set has the crowd utterly transfixed with the pain portrayed in each lyric, like the anguished, “I am worthless in your arms, but you offer this protection no one else has given me” from the track ‘Protection’.

Jaye Jayle leave the stage for the final song, an intimate rendition of ‘Heaven’, performed by Emma alone. It is no less full bodied, even without a band. With a rise and fall in both guitar and voice, it is a gut-wrenching journey. The mic is abandoned, her voice carried from centre stage by its own merit, showing an intense power but finishing with mere whispers before Emma makes a quick exit, emotionally drained.

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