Live Review: Smoke Fairies with John J Presley at Rough Trade Bristol 8/2/2020

With the release of their latest album Darkness Brings The Wonders Home on 31st January, Chichester’s Smoke Fairies have gone on tour across the UK. I caught their show at Rough Trade Bristol.

The sold out show was opened by John J Presley, a jazz-rock artist from Birmingham, supported by Paul May on the drums. John played us 8 tracks from his discography. His eccentric style, with heavy jazz chords and LOTS of reverb (so much reverb) was a good way to open the show.

After a short wait, the band took to the stage, welcomed with cheers from the crowd. Along with Katherine and Jessica, John J Presley was playing bass guitar and Shaun Fellowfield was on the drums.

The night’s set was opened with Super Tremolo, the 10th track lifted off the latest release. The melodic rhythms and vocal styles made it a great opener to the show. This was followed by Chew Your Bones, another song lifted from Darkness Brings

Out Of The Woods, with Jessica on the bass,and Eclipse Them All followed, the first song from an earlier album. A few introductions were said, but as a band they were definitely more players than talkers. This preceded Summer Fades, one of their earliest tracks, from their 2010 album Through Low Light and Trees.

One of their biggest tracks was played next, with Disconnect getting the room on their feet. This was before After The Rain, Left To Roll and their next biggest track Elevator. This was also joined with some great words of advice from Katherine – “don’t have important conversations in lifts.”

Alas, we were told there would only be two more songs. Don’t You Want To Spiral Out Of Control?  Was first of the last two, and the final track of the night from Darkness… before The Three Of Us rocked the crowd for what we thought was the end.

After a short walk-off walk-on from the band, we were treated to two actual last songs. Feel It Coming Near, a song about Laika, the first dog in space, was met with an “aww” from the crowd when we were told “he made it up, but did not come back down”, before the final track of the night. According to the setlist, this was And One For Luck, and although I’m not certain, I think it was Chocolate Rabbit, lifted from Darkness… that closed the night. It was met with cheers and shouts from the crowd, but the night was over. They also stayed around for photos and to sell merch at the end.

And with that, thanks must always go to the team at Rough Trade Bristol (who still need to sort their prices out) and Katherine Blamire, Jessica Davies, John J Presley, Shaun Fellowfield and Paul May for an excellent show.

Words by Ted Stargatt.

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