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Nicole Atkins Jim Sclavunos Live

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Nicole Atkins & Jim Sclavunos Live
St Marys Performance Space, Chester, 11 June 2023

Ask me about venue convenience with excellent acoustic quality and I’ll recommend this venue ’till the cows come home. Accommodating around 150 people St Marys Performance Space is actually a quite beautiful church right in the centre of the city of Chester, immediately behind the Crown Law court featured many times on TV news. It is because of this that the venue also enjoys virtually unlimited free and secure parking in one of the pettiest locations of any venue I’ve visited in over 20 years of show coverage.

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It’s therefore an acoustic performance venue with few peers and as such encourages visits by some of the best singer/songwriters around from both sides of the pond. And tonight was no exception. The pairing of Atkins and Sclavunos is a musical gift which the sellout audience attested to. But first a young lady who was a stranger to us all…but left as an intimate friend.

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Toria Wooff

Toria Wooff’s world is a colourful palette of opposing plains. A painter, poet, songwriter and storyteller, her songs are steeped in gothic romanticism, pagan and Germanic tradition, enchanted by an alchemy of ‘70s sound and vision where she magically blends the raw power of Led Zeppelin with Alice Cooper’s raven hues to forge her own spellbinding folk-rock concoction.

In an age when punk politics’ grey skies can overwhelm, Toria Wooff’s own darkness offers unexpected solace and leaves an equally poignant mark. Fuelled by the thunder of individual spirit and a beating wild heart, her debut EP Badlands shone a light through sorrow’s cracks whilst extending a withered autumnal branch between stormy skies and solstice aligning her with Mother Nature’s tour de force. “I’m proud to be a young woman who sings and writes songs, and don’t apologise for being drawn to the gloomier things in life,” she says.

With the sonic rabbit hole well and truly open, Toria encountered Joan Baez, Crosby Stills and Nash, Pink Floyd, and Townes Van Zandt. Her roots entwined to the windswept valleys of Lancashire, the rural setting provided a fitting backdrop to the music as she began to sense a connection with the Celtic and Gaelic folklore of her mother’s Scottish heritage. Making past times strangely present with pagan-like spirituality, Toria’s melancholic bite lies between the pages of gothic literature and historical texts.

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A nervous start by this young singer/songwriter was hardly surprising but soon changed into a communicative and confident performance. The lady has the sweetest voice singing her own compositions which varied both in pace, emotional content and style. There’s no doubting that her music is centred on the modern folk genre but what is surprising is her rocky turn in ‘The Flood’ while the country feel of ‘Mountains’ is less so. During the set Wooff built a sound and easy relationship with the audience, with humour never far away, while her guitar picking couldn’t be more gentle and effectrive.

It was pleasing that the the main feature’s support was so able and capable of warming the audience so well.

Setlist

Lefty’s
For Liam
Song For A
The Flood
Mountains
Sweet William
See Things Through
Estuaries
Falling In Love

https://www.toriawooff.com/

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