As the Awayke Collective hits the road to play Manchester, we reflect on the fourth instalment in the occasional live music and performance series.
In an inspired move Awayke 4 was held inside the rustic and homely surroundings of Thieving Harry’s on Humber Street. Four very different acts for our entertainment and enjoyment introduced by Awayke creator and compère Martin Lewsley.
A dull chime emanates from without and my eyes are drawn to a young man shuffling forward through the crowd, dressed head to toe in black, banging a metal tray. His hair is cut short and dark and were it not for the absence of a tonsure he could have just stepped straight out of the 13th Century Friary, located in these parts way back when.
The staring eyes of a convert, a strange fixed smile that was, all together unnerving. Then the voice, somewhere between Antony Hegarty and Tom Waits not forgetting mid song a deep guttural sound that was akin to Mongolian throat-singing. Songs pastoral folk; darkly gothic sung with wavering tremolo and instrumentation from another era. Mystical and other worldly Tsinder Ash charmed the crowd with his strangely hypnotic and deeply emotive performance.
Rachel Harris captivated audiences with her portrayal of the short tragic life of a heroin addict in ‘Tracks’ at Kardomah 94 (Heads Up Festival) . This new work ‘Black and Greys’ written especially for her by Playwright Dave Windass was equally challenging and just as well received. A simple device of hiding in plain view, and the young actress reveals herself much to the delight of the attentive crowd.
Indeed all eyes are watching her every move as she spins a tale of confused young love, rabid co-dependency spiced with excess and hedonism, leading to a confrontation with a twist. Picking out reluctant audience members she shares the chaotic story, her girlish demeanour working its magic on each and everyone of us.
Ruby Tingle is another artist who is no stranger to the more theatrical side of performance. A gothic inspired gown clasped at the breast with reptilian clasp, full skirt with dark tresses fixed with hair adornment. She takes her seat behind the keyboard to play a set of bewitching numbers. I reach for Tori Amos then for Kate Bush and toy with Natasha Khan… then stop trying to find comparisons. She fits that breathy sensuous breed of performer, with soaring piano lines echoic and haunting, with arcane lyrics weaving a spell, enchanting her audience.
Resident Awake artist The Dyr Sister closed the night in fine style. Always engaging and memorable she has exchanged the Tupperware for tech, where she now has stored samples and percussive beats. Still using the loop pedal to build up songs using taps on the body of her viola or mandolin, bowing to create mournful fleeting layers and the percussive sounds of instruments from a past trip to Mexico.
There’s some new songs including one about Beards and two festive numbers carols from the native Indian tradition and also Scandinavian origin. The layers combine, the voice soars around the vaulted ceilings of this unique venue. The sound fills the space and reverberates in the chamber above: quite extraordinary.
With each instalment Awayke brings new artists to the Hull audience, a different eye and approach in curating an event; pure stripped down performance at its best. Follow on Twitter: @WeAreAwayke http://awayke.co.uk/
Live images courtesy of Patrick ND