Saxual Healing and the Coach House Company
ADC Theatre, 11pm, 11th June
This night of music was definitely good fun, but it was a shame that the Coach House Company didn't really match the standard of Saxual Healing, who were almost faultless. The night started off well; although Saxual Healing were a little lacking in stage presence at the beginning, they quickly pulled out the big guns with their Disney "segue" (they insisted that they are "not a medley band!") getting a great response from the crowd. Their set showcased well their excellent arrangements: the quartet really played as one, and even the (perhaps intentional) awkwardness as they moved between different covers within a piece was somehow comical and charming. Their tongue-in-cheek dance moves were also great- their cover of 'Toxic' definitely living up to their 'the saxiest new girl band in town' tagline, and their valiant attempt to play 'You've got a friend in me' with their arms all linked up and doing cancan-style moves had the whole audience in fits of laughter.
Unfortunately, it seemed that the biggest cheers for the Coach House Company were from their heckling buddies rather than in response to great music. It was a shame, because in their set you definitely got glimpses of great musical talent, especially from Maya Amin-Smith, who played three different instruments and sang excellently. It is possible that the double bass player (Marianne Schofield) was similarly talented but the sound was done in such a way that you could barely hear her playing which also meant that some of the pieces felt a bit unbalanced. But the vocals were what really pulled the set down; it may be that Heloise Werner had a cold, but her frequent solos were often not quite on key, and she seemed to be struggling to reach some of the notes. Colin Danskin's vocals were consistently good, but there were some weak points, notably in their cover of 'Chasing Cars'.
When Saxual Healing and the Coach House Company played 'Rolling in the Deep' together the quality was not as good as the earlier Saxual Healing pieces. The arrangement showed some promise in the interesting banjo additions from Maya, but sounded quite disjointed, and Heloise's voice felt incongruous with the song. To give them credit where credit is due, Colin very nicely incorporated the audience in the set, especially during 'Leaving of Liverpool', which was a lovely tune. I think with a little work this band could be really great and bring some interesting folk-y music into the mainstream. It is an original concept for a band and the glimpses of exceptional talent in this set suggested the mixture of instruments could be wonderful. Overall, it was a fun night and an excellent celebration of the end of exams with a good helping of cheesy music.