Live Review: Wendy James, Emily Breeze + The Radio Makers at The Fleece, Bristol

On the evening of Thursday the 2nd of September I walked into the Fleece, which is personally one of my favourite live music venues in Bristol. I have spent endless hours both as a punter and on stage and I couldn’t help noticing a few changes they must have brought in during the nationwide lockdown. The first being the installation of TV Monitors on either side of the stage. This brought a drastic change to the overall feel of a live show as before the Fleece felt more like a small local pub venue, however the new monitors helped to bring more of an arena feel. The second, admittedly slightly less noticeable, was the installation of air conditioning units. In a packed-out venue the feel of a slight breeze against your neck is sure to be greatly appreciated by audience and performers alike.

The audience was already large by the time the first act, The Radio Makers, made their way on to the stage. Perhaps about 60% of the total audience already in attendance for the first act. This could be due to the fact the majority of the audience were slightly older than folks of my generation where punctuality isn’t held as high in value.

The frontman for The Radio Makers oozed confidence throughout the whole performance. Dancing away and sporting a T-shirt that loudly shouts “I’m a Poseur” (It was actually written on the T-Shirt). As I stood there listening I couldn’t stop one thought from entering my head over and over again. ‘This guy sounds exactly like Jim Bob from Carter U.S.M!’ (If you haven’t heard them, go check them out!) Now, I’m unaware if this is an influence for the band or the singer in general but I’m definitely here for it. Another influence I could grasp was from the style of guitar that brought very similar vibes to The Killers.

The next act on the line up was Emily Breeze. It is very rare that I witness a performance from an artist or band I’d never listened to before and immediately fall in love with their music but this was definitely one of those times. Emily brought a huge mix of styles to the table and fused them in such a beautiful way that I was instantly hooked. Rocking a semi-hollow body guitar Emily showed us that she really can do it all by adding enchanting singing and captivating spoken word poetry and even a small bit of rapping to the mix. The band playing behind her brought elements of Pink Floyd thanks to the lead guitarist (who also had some solo’s that could make Slash jealous!) and the person behind the keys on the synthesizer. Another really nice element to their live performance was the drummers use of a drum pad that allowed him to switch between the live drums and a MIDI kit. In all fairness I really can’t stress how much Emily Breeze stole the show and my heart.

Finally, the moment had come for the always opulent Wendy James to take the spotlight. Accompanied by the 5 members of her touring band, the spectacle began. Performing in front of a mesmerizing video back drop Wendy sang and danced the night away. Watching the way Wendy moved you would have easily believed this performance was a hologram from the late ‘80s. The quicksands of time have no affect on this icon. At one point during the performance Wendy looked upon us and exclaimed how beautiful we look to which a large number of men in the crowd responded to ensure Wendy knew just how beautiful she looked too. She also stated that several people from previous shows have pointed out that the band she was currently touring with sounded better than the band she recorded the latest album with, which is rather true too. Wendy put on a fantastic show and as stated previously shows no signs of slowing down, and the number of people in attendance only helps to prove that fact.

Review by Kane McEvoy

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