Words by Ed King / Pics by Carlie-Ann Hare
It’s like being punched in the face, a feeling I am all too familiar with; heavy, brash and an odd way to say hello. But at least we know the gig’s started.
Hannah Trigwell opens her set off the back of a very loud kick drum; one that startles most of the room outside the mixing console. Playing five consecutive dates across the UK, with a full band in tow, tonight is the first gig of her debut headline tour and a comfortable crowd has dodged the January rain to come and wish her well. Having built up a large fan base from online posts and performances, there is a cozy camaraderie in the Academy 3. I’m standing next to somebody’s mum and dad.
‘Give it Up’ fades out and Hannah asks “how are you Birmingham?”; a dangerous question in this city and one I’ve seen unanswered by a stadium of Brummies. But her professional segue gains a reassuring response, and the Leeds born singer/songwriter moves deftly into track number two, ‘You’.
Hannah Trigwell’s debut single, ‘Headrush’, is up next, and gets greeted with a resounding cheer of recognition; before an homage to Drake’s double platinum selling ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’, minus Ebony Day.
Hannah Trigwell is a solid songwriter, with each original track showing subtle melody and the simple pleasure of an intrinsically, good, song. Something many more seasoned musicians never achieve. But the band around her seems to be fighting for prominence, speared by a precocious guitarist with a reverb/flange addiction; I’m often distracted by a disjointed delivery. Although as ‘Numbers’ catches its stride (and almost exactly as I write ‘disjointed’ into my notebook) there evolves some unity on stage, as if the four well rehearsed musicians momentarily stop stressing, and just play together. During the crescendo they feel like a band.
The title track from Hannah’s debut 3 Peace Records EP, Pieces, reminds me of Jewel and just how much Ms Trigwell can sing. It’s quite beautiful, especially live. But as she moves straight into ‘Another Broken Heart’ I start to feel the friction again, and catch an arguably deflated look jumping quickly off stage.
What happens next is much more empowering. After a potentially nervous, hopefully earnest, plea for feedback, the main set’s penultimate track begins with a tough, biting intro.
Plotted, low vocals make a clean stance on stage, building to a determined chorus; Hannah Trigwell looks strong and sounds stronger. There’s a darker feel, but one that’s supported by a considered maturity – and although I can’t make out the lyrics I get the impression they’re pertinent; to the writer, to the singer, and to the audience if they want them to be. As ‘Rectify’ gets the hearty applause it deserves, I relax in the aftermath of a track she owns start to finish.
Hannah Trigwell ends her set with ‘Hurricane’ and a two track encore – another new track, ‘Tightrope’, and the seemingly ubiquitous cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’. But it’s ‘Rectify’ I leave to room remembering most.
A sample of things to come..? I certain hope so. And I don’t mind having my head knocked back if it going to sound like this.
For more on Hannah Trigwell, including full tour dates and links to her Pieces EP, visit http://www.hannahtrigwell.com
For further listings at the O2 Academy Birmingham, visit http://www.o2academybirmingham.co.uk