REVIEW: Carina Round, Hare & Hounds – 8.6.11

Carina Round – photo by Paul Ward

It’s been two years since Carina Round performed in Birmingham, with a mid week Hare & Hounds gig one of only two UK shows the singer/songwriter has booked for 2011. Supported by the truly sensational Vijay Kishore and the unfortunately forgettable Dan Whitehouse, the H&H’s main room was wall to wall with anticipation. The crowd murmurs, did someone say ‘homecoming’? Or was it just another loudly whispered ‘I used to know her when…’ commentary coming from the bar.

‘I’m sorry for my pseudo American accent,’ Carina apologises immediately, the aftershock of living and recording in LA apparently following her on stage. Dressed in a bright blue dress with bright red shoes she looks like a confident Dorothy. One preparing to fight her way home with an acoustic guitar.

Opening with the relatively new ‘You & Me’ (a track Carina once admitted makes her cry) and following with ‘Motel 74’ from her 2003 album ‘The Disconnection’, the old/new gauntlet is thrown down immediately. Lyrics like ‘you and me in a park in Kings Heath’ raise a conspiratorial laugh, whilst anger, Americana and what I’m calling acoustic punk (…it exists) prevent anything too twee and comfortable. The chronological hop scotch continues with currently unreleased ‘Girl & Ghost’ and ‘Pick Up The Phone’ paving a return to Carina’s first two records in the shape of ‘How I See It’ and ‘Paris’. Despite the decade of difference, all Carina’s material is relevant, powerfully delivered and surprisingly fresh.

But the first of the evening’s I-was-there moments arrived when, after kicking her band off stage, Carina’s instructs the audience to ‘sing the last lines with me’ during the denouement to Backseat, the beautiful lead track off her ‘Things You Should Know’ EP. Audience participation at gigs can be awful, embarrassing and even a little narcissistic. But sometimes, like this time, they can be a moment of magic.

The second was a duet with Miles Hunt, singing ‘Four To The Floor’- a song originally written by Hunt ‘a gazillian years ago’ before Carina added a female retort to the ‘piss poor male’ lyrics. Apart from the rare chance to see two of the Midland’s finest singer/songwriters play together on hallowed home ground (kind of, sort of), with Hunt on guitar it allowed Carina to do nothing but sing. Something she does frighteningly well.

Carina Round’s debut album, ‘The First Blood Mystery’, has been re-released on limited edition vinyl, celebrating the 10th anniversary of her first studio recording. For more information visit www.carinaround.com

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