MORGANWAY + THE HEAVY HEAVY + JAKE MORRELL – THE BRUNSWICK, HOVE 4.11.21
Morganway brought their very own version of a music festival to the Brunswick Pub in Hove last night. Imagine energy, harmony and strong vocals hitting you like a train as this fierce rocking band leapt into their set stirring up the enthusiastic crowd.
Their version of Americana is strongly on the rocking side of the spectrum, with catchy, original songs sung in the main by SJ Mortimer, accompanied by harmonies from the rest of the band. Mortimer’s style of intense, strong vocals is more Janis Joplin with a hint of husky Bonnie Tyler than K.D. Lang or Bonnie Raitt, with Callum Morgan’s pleasant, occasional numbers coming sometimes as a bit of light relief. It takes just one instrument to take music to a different place and Nicole Terry’s swinging fiddle did this for me, sometimes soulful, sometimes haunting, but always rousing, she supplied the key element that gave Morganway’s songs an edge.
The band was formed by twin brothers, Callum and Kieran Morgan, and released its self-titled debut album in August 2019 to widespread acclaim, earning Morganway a British Country Music Award Nomination for UK Band of the Year. Many festival appearances and a tour with CC Smugglers followed, bringing Morganway to Brighton & Hove for the first time on their current tour.
Galvanising the audience, Morganway started their set as they meant to go on, with ‘Devil’s Canyon’, a rocking folk song, lifted by Terry’s fiddle playing and Mortimer’s vocals. ‘Going Nowhere’ and ‘Coming Home’ followed, the latter was joyous and, contrary to the title, described a reluctance to return home, “I don’t think we’re ever coming home” Mortimer sang, the band were obviously having too much fun and the song’s happy energy definitely translated to the audience, making it a favourite of mine. Next came a new song, ‘Come Over’, which was a power ballad and ‘My Love Ain’t Gonna Save You’, which started with the unaccompanied vocals of Mortimer and Morgan blending nicely before the guitars and drums kicked in strongly, Terry’s mournful fiddle solo added texture and the catchy chorus went down well.
‘Frozen In Our Time’ was introduced as a “trippy number”, part power ballad, part rock song. Mortimer’s accomplished, clear vocals cried out hauntingly as the song came to an end. ‘Halfway Tonight’ was a catchy singalong number, sung well by Morgan, and was a fun and relaxing change from the intensity of Mortimer’s vocals. The keyboard and fiddle added charm to this singalong, another personal favourite. Morgan explained how the song had been inspired by a conversation with his twin when arranging to meet up, Kieran had said “let’s meet halfway tonight” and the rest was history.
Their set did not consist purely of all the tracks from the album, these were interspersed with other energetic crowd pleasers, building up to ‘Hurricane’, the final, powerful song with their signature harmonies and energy, “hitting me like an avalanche” as Mortimer belted out and the guitars sang. Ain’t that the truth! Catch these guys on tour and feed off their positive energy as we all did last night.
SJ Mortimer (vocals)
Callum Morgan (vocals, guitar)
Nicole Terry (fiddle)
Kieran Morgan (guitar)
Matt Brocklehurst (keys)
‘Steady’ Eddy (drums)
‘My Love Ain’t Gonna Save You’
‘Frozen In Our Time’
‘Wait For Me..’.
‘When You Find Me Now’
‘You Oughtta Know’
‘Let Me Go’
For further information on the band visit their official website www.morganway.co.uk
First up to get the joint jumping was Jake Morrell, a British country rock singer-songwriter originally from Norfolk and now living in London. His popularity is growing countrywide partly as a result of interest shown by Emily Eavis on hearing him on Dermot O’Leary’s Radio 2 show. She was so impressed she immediately invited him to play at Glastonbury. Morrell’s debut single, ‘Wire And Thorns’, went straight to Number 2 in the iTunes country chart on its release day and was produced by Brett Shaw (Florence & The Machine, The Kooks). Morrell was also invited to play at Country 2 Country festival.
A classy support act, Morrell was playing solo last night, but will be returning next year to Hove with his band, he told us. His songs came across well with his raspy and soaring vocals, and could have been written in Nashville, as they are full of flair and professional country style and it will be interesting to hear them with the addition of his band. Standouts for me were ‘This House’ and ‘Englishman’, the former had been released during lockdown and celebrated Morrell’s family home which his family had recently moved from after 28 years and held many memories for him and his two siblings. Next up was a rockier country number, ‘Free Wheeling’, and Morrell’s good rapport with the pub crowd encouraged them to sing the chorus of “keep on rolling”. His final song was his new single ‘Home’ which confirmed that he is one to watch.
Jake Morrell setlist:
‘Heading For Heartache’
‘Wire & Thorns’
The Heavy Heavy
Popular local band, The Heavy Heavy provided the second support act to Morganway.
In a similar vein to the main act but more rocky and great fun for festivals, The Heavy Heavy have a strong female vocalist fronting the 5 piece band which comprised 2 guitars, keyboards and drums. Their short set was sprinkled with nice harmonies, a bit of blues, a bit of funk, a bit of sixties’, think 2021 Mamas and Papas, and all with heavy, heavy drums and a strong lead vocal. ‘Downriver’ was my favourite song of their set and their cover of ‘Lonesome LA Cowboy’ was an enjoyable way to end this aperitif.
The Heavy Heavy setlist:
‘Man On The Hill’
‘Why Don’t You Call?’
‘Sleeping On Grassy Ground’
‘Lonesome LA Cowboy’ (cover of New Riders of the Purple Sage)
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