It may have been billed as an intimate evening of acoustic music, but at their show at The Burl in Lexington, Kentucky, vocal powerhouses Jade Bird and Savannah Conley certainly filled the instrumental void (and then some).
It may have been billed as an intimate evening of acoustic music, but at their show at The Burl in Lexington, Kentucky, vocal powerhouses Jade Bird and Savannah Conley certainly filled the instrumental void (and then some). With their captivating and colossal croons, the two seized the palpable buzz in the air following the CDC’s announcement that those fully vaccinated from COVID-19 no longer needed to mask up in most places, putting on a night to mark the start of fresh beginnings.
Savannah Conley took to the stage just as the sun began to set, diving straight into a solo, stripped-back version of ‘Never Want To Be In Love’ from her just-released Surprise, Surprise EP. She soon welcomed keyboardist Emma Spears to the stage for the remainder of her set (minus one other solo performance on the ethereal ‘Same Old Eyes’). Mixed in between her signature sad songs like ‘Take Me Home’, ‘Dream Boy’ and ‘Never Be Ourselves’, Conley made sure to make light of the contrasting mood of her songs and the audience’s vibe, at one point jokingly saying, “It's Friday night, who’s ready to cry... If you’re looking for a good time, I am not your gal.”
Following a full transition into darkness, Jade Bird stepped out, illuminated only by the warm glow of four table lamps. From the first note on her opening ‘Headstart’, the singer-songwriter put on an impressive display of vocal gymnastics, going on to effortlessly navigate the poetic and pop-tinged lyrics on tongue-twisting cuts like ‘I Get No Joy’, ‘Good At It’ and ‘Cathedral.’ The Northumberland-born artist’s hellacious hoot-and-hollers more than held up on their own on hits like ‘Uh Huh’ and ‘Love Has All Been Done Before’, providing further evidence of her monumental talent. On other numbers, Bird showed her tender side, like on a poignant rendition of ‘Something American’, the only song of the night in which she traded out her guitar for keys.
After spending the majority of her set running through her catalogue of originals, Bird dedicated the final third of her performance to playing a handful of covers. These included a hand-clapping version of Son House’s ‘Grinnin’ In Your Face’ with guitarist Lucky Kilmartin, and a sublime cover of Dolly Parton’s ‘Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?’ that saw Conley head back onto the stage for an entrancing vocal duet. Later on came a set-closing rendition of Johnny Cash’s ‘I’ve Been Everywhere’ that found Bird blast through the stampeding, globetrotting verses of the iconic song while sneaking in London and other places she’s visited.
At only 23, it's safe to say that although she’s already traveled far and wide, the rising talent of Jade Bird will continue taking her to new places and singing to new faces for years to come.
Photography by Sarah Cahill.