Toni Chills In The Sweltering Heat Of 17 June At Muthers Studio

Writer Mirab Kay / Photographer Alice Needham

It seems Toni and the band have picked the hottest day of the year so far to showcase their setlist brimming with attitude.

Though the set starts rather abruptly, we are immediately immersed in the heavy progression of the first song which encourages us to begin dancing along.

Regrettably, the sound levels are such that Toni’s delicate voice is a little hard to hear, but this is a problem that soon sorts itself out as everyone eases into the groove. We are even given the privilege of becoming musicians ourselves, our claps providing the sole backing to a section of the song.

After a timid introduction to the audience, and a tuning of lead guitar, we venture into ‘You Oughta Know’ by Alanis Morissette. The shimmering guitar lays down a stable, rhythmic melody over which Toni has free reign to show off her light, pretty vibrato during the verse and pre chorus.

Then, with no warning, the band hurls itself into the chorus and graceful vocals erupt into powerful belts that boom through the speakers. This increasing energy is reflected in the audience who continue to show their support.

Next the band delights me with one of my favourite ever songs – ‘You Know I’m No Good’ by Amy Winehouse. Toni absolutely does Amy Winehouse justice, even adopting vocal cries to mimic her vocal style, though with a lighter approach and more focus on well-controlled fast vibrato.

I remain charmed throughout the entire song and commend the band for its faithfulness to the original track. This is somewhat shattered towards the end when the guitar and bass fail to communicate on where the song should end, resulting in a disjointed and partially formed conclusion.

Song four – ‘The Joke’ by Brandi Carlile – was undoubtedly chosen to showcase Toni’s incredible range and discipline over keeping her vocals slow. Yet again, she wows with her belts in the chorus so much so that the audience scream and cheer their amazement.

The end of the song allows Toni to perform some beautifully supported head voice riffs, boasting her versatility yet again.

The band closes the show with another of my all-time favourites ‘Feeling Good’, opting for the heavier cover by Muse. In all honesty I am thrilled and relieved that someone in the Birmingham music scene has finally decided to perform this song – it seems to have dropped off the setlists of many jazz and blues bands and I believe the world is definitely worse for it.

Even though I would love to hear Toni reimagine Nina Simone’s incredible scatting, this version allows Toni to exercise the lower end of her range and the transitions between chest and head voice.

The set ends almost as suddenly as it started with some awkwardness that could be avoided by an outro at least. Some more conversation throughout could ease everyone’s nerves particularly between band members who rarely seem to communicate, though miraculously this does little to damage their timings and transitions.

Do I wish the set was longer? Always. But I am happy with what I have seen regardless and with a little more experience, these young musicians will hold their fans in the palms of their hands.

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