Since his debut '8 songs' in 2002, English singer songwriter, and instrumentalist Stephen Fretwell has released about 6 records and sold out arenas and concert halls. This gig at London's Cadogan Hall was a rather quiet one. Not just quiet in terms of an audience, which wasn't really a lively atmosphere, but in terms of the music partly being acoustic numbers. You see the show was split into two halves.
First came the majority of the acoustic numbers, some of which I must admit seemed to drone on and on which became a little dreary. But, the audience were kept on their toes when as well as Fretwell playing guitar on the numbers like 'Run' and the long 'William Shatner's dog', he also showed off his piano ability on some tracks.
The stage became livelier when the band kicked in and the songs progressed to a more upbeat nature like 'Dead', 'San Francisco Blues', and in particular the recent single 'Scar', which had a melody and beat that subconsciously gets you grooving. The addition of the violin to a more intense track was the perfect inclusion and Johnny Lexis on bass guitar during 'Darling don't', a love song, was gratifying.
The show concluded with 'New York', and in the same method as it began. As Fretwell completed his performance, the crowd who had up to this point been very hush hush, despite the occasional screams for some particular tracks, such as 'Emily', applauded his show with a standing ovation.
Throughout the show vocals were spot on and the sounds that you would think would be kept constant with just a guitar were changeable and kept a listener interested. One thing that did seem to be time consuming was the repetition of "this song is about..." 'Ground beneath your feet' is about leading someone up the garden path, this song is about vile happenings in a hotel room, and another is about a fairground incident. The lyrics will probably give away reasons behind the song; there was no need to explain again and again. But, it did seem this was getting to Fretwell as well as this reviewer. After a while he gave up and just continued to with the night of good quality music. He also managed to handle the echoes caused by the huge hall like a pro.
The new album 'Man On The Roof' contains some of the wonderful, and meaningful tracks witnessed in Cadogan Hall, with just the same enthusiasm and talent provided on this night.