On the day of the launch of his self-released album and hot off the back of supporting Newton Faulkner (who we catch lurking at the back of the venue), Sam Brookes welcomes a sold out crowd who eagerly gather to hear the highly anticipated tracks from his new album Kairos.
Previous times seeing Sam perform he has told tales of his days as a choir boy singing for the Queen in her private chapel, so what better place for his album launch than the beautiful confines of St Pancras Old Church.
Opening support comes from The Magic Lantern, an all-round happy chappy intent on ensuring the audience is having a good time. Starting his set by letting us know that if you fight against the surroundings they fight back, he reverts to a sweetly sung acapella opener that immediately grabs the audience. The rest of his set continues with the aid of the gentle plucking of his guitar, alongside his light soaring high notes. Clearly a good friend of Sam’s, Jamie (the man behind The Magic Lantern) seems genuinely humbled to have witnessed the creation of Kairos, and to have been invited to be part of the launch.
Main support comes from Stroud folk four piece Hot Feet, who boast probably the tallest guitarist in the world (there wasn’t a representative from the Guinness Book of Records to confirm this, but trust me). Driven by deep rumbling base notes and the top notch vocals of Marianne Parish, they deliver stomping folk rock. Unfortunately much of their set is tainted by some squeaky chord changes with Marianne’s guitar, she did apologise but it ruined some key parts of their otherwise captivating performance. When the four piece decide to dabble in harmonies some really special elements grow from the performance.
Some of the backing for Kairos was crowdfunded through Pledge Music, with pledgers offered items from a digital copy of the album, to Sam Brookes branded chocolate (is that a first?) and tickets to tonight’s gig. It appeared that a number of the attendees tonight were pledgers, and Sam greets them as he takes to a stage drenched in ever-changing colours from the backlighting. He begins his set with the same track order from the start of Kairos, his acapella ‘Intro’ softly transforms into the pluckings of the electrifying ‘Numb’. He then breaks into his latest single, the gentle and soothing toe-tapper ‘James’. It’s track ‘Breaking Blue’ that appears the most commercial and radio-ready, with a catchy sing-a-long chorus.
Sam provides an insight into the recording process of the album and talked of his time putting down tracks at a holiday let in Shropshire. ‘One Day’ is the only song on the album that’s just him and his guitar and, he tells us, on the final note of the recorded track you can hear a sports car drive past. ‘On The Mend’ provides a stormy, blues-driven guitar track but still manages to tie his poetic lyrics and ethereal vocals in with it.
On ‘Crazy World and You’ his intricate guitar plucking gently fills the space left by the previous track before he injects his vocals. Soon Sam has the whole church singing “out in the countryside” along with him. The night finishes as it started with Sam leaving the stage to sing ‘Lost in Life’ from his debut self-titled album using just the acoustics of the church to amplify his voice.
A fantastic night to launch what is a fantastic album, Sam’s sensuous and fluid vocals tie perfectly with his impeccable guitar work to create a pure sound. He has so much control over his performance but it’s when he allows his voice to soar that we see the real greatness, which leaves you holding out for more of these moments. The Kairos tour continues around the rest of the country and I’d thoroughly recommend heading down to pick up a copy (…and maybe some Sam Brookes chocolate) and to be enchanted by the man himself.