The Exchange is an obscure, but wonderful venue. Hidden in plain sight within the centre of Bristol, only seasoned music lovers know to head to this tiny venue. As a result of both the venue’s size and obscurity, I knew I was in for a real treat when I was asked to cover SayWeCanFly’s Storyteller Unplugged tour. Is there better way to spend a Thursday night?
The doors opened, and people flowed into the venue – this much is to be expected. Something inherently heart-warming, that I did not expect, was the cosy, relaxing ‘family’ atmosphere created by the crowd. Perhaps I should come to acoustic shows a little more often. With this, Crilly came on to the stage. Despite visible nerves, he really nailed this short set. Crilly was in his element performing Ashestoangels’ ‘Down We Go’, a song which I have come to admire. The sheer nihilism of lyrics such as, “It feels like I’m drowning but I have no fear for the waves”, seem to highlight a nakedness of the soul which can only blossom as a result of true musical honesty. As Crilly exited the stage, the small but spritely crowd were in fabulous spirits.
After a short wait, we were graced by the presence of CRITICS, whose set was simply impeccable. Though they had but little time on the stage, their endless humility won the crowd over instantly. The star of their short set, without doubt, was ‘All I Wanna Know’. This song, taken from debut EP ‘Spilt Milk’, highlights and encompasses the CRITICS aesthetic. The sheer sass, and vocal acrobatics, are of a like that I have never heard before. Having listened to CRITICS both live and recorded, I strongly urge you to go and see them live; even the best of recordings cannot do them justice. You’ll be thankful to have caught them in such a small venue too, they certainly won’t be playing venues this size for much longer.
Following an introduction taken from The Lord Of The Rings, SayWeCanFly took to the stage. Braden performed a total of three songs upon the stage of the Exchange, before descending to the floor of the venue for the rest of the set. He later explained that one of the reasons that this unique tour has taken place is for him to feel much closer to the people that support him. Sometimes, as a musician, it can be easy to get caught up in issues with the industry, or in things that don’t matter. By going on this tour, Braden explained, he re-familiarized himself with the moments at a show when you don’t worry about outside life, and simply live for the moment; something which I feel many of us could learn from.
The set was exceedingly intimate, almost tender in its emotional openness. The star of Braden’s wonderfully performed, and rather technical set, was ‘When I Come Home’. To have somebody stand by you, even when you are ‘afraid of yourself’ is something very special, and this song profoundly expresses the supportive nature of a relationship between two people. Much of the set mirrored this sentiment, and gave the show an atmosphere that is simply indescribable. Later, as I left the show, it made me smile seeing Braden taking the time to speak to so many of his young fans, setting the bar high for their next shows. Who knows? Maybe they’ll find themselves doing the same thing.
All current tour dates can be found on the official SayWeCanFly Facebook page.
Review: Amy Jefferies
Images: Becky O’Grady