Monday, 9 July 2012

Jennie Sawdon, live at The Sanctuary, July 8th 2012

The inimitable Jennie Sawdon made a welcome return to The Sanctuary in Didsbury, Manchester last night, and I was privileged to be in the crowd - which I'm fairly sure has grown in size each time Jennie's provided the music at the bar's fortnightly Sunday Jazz night.

It's an unpredictable night, with musicians travelling the length of the country - sometimes literally - to be involved. Jennie is north-west based herself, but her ensemble had assembled from further afield. Anthony, who was recording the performance for a possible upcoming live album (yes please, Jennie...!), had made the journey up from London.

Each fortnight, this level of commitment delivers something a little bit special, regardless of your musical tastes, but Jennie's emotion-charged, flawless vocals add an unparalleled edge to her appearances, creating a genuinely intimate air that is not solely down to the bijou scale of the venue.

We're waiting with considerable anticipation on any firm details of the live album, but for those who already own their copies of Jennie's debut, self-produced album Fighting the Fairytale, the prospect of a professionally produced collection of her live work is tantalising indeed.

In the meantime, there's the album, the YouTube videos (such as the one above, and the beautiful video Jennie recently released for her love song Nothing) and the tracks that make it on to the front page of her website.

We're thrilled to have tracked Jennie's career almost since the day she launched Fighting the Fairytale, which in itself transformed her from a jobbing wedding singer into a fully fledged recording artist - and realised a lifelong dream in the process.

As always, Jennie was ably supported by an army of friends and family, including hubby Chris Geere of Waterloo Road fame (you may spot him in the video above) who is possibly even more generous with hugs than Jennie is herself.

I've said it before, and I'll no doubt say it again, but in this new age of instant access via Twitter, it's the approachable stars who shine the brightest - not those with seven-figure follower counts - and Jennie, her parents and aunt, Chris and the whole entourage are among the most welcoming people I've met.

Undoubtedly, it is this sense of inclusion - bolstered by Jennie's heartfelt and revealing introductions to each of her songs - that keeps drawing her audience back again and again.

With all of that in mind, it seems particularly fitting that this time around, it was one of Jennie's covers that marked the emotional high point of the evening for me, alongside her own tale of sisterly love and perennial crowd-pleaser, Echoes.

This time out, it was her elegant and understated rendition of Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time that really stole the show (although perhaps that's because it's one of my favourite songs...).

But between the covers and the original compositions, the jazz and the ballads, there was, once again, plenty for everyone to appreciate, regardless of taste - and Jennie's performance, accomplished as ever, has me counting the days until the Sawdon clan descend en masse on The Sanctuary once again.

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