Originally hailing from Edinburgh, via New Zealand, Ruarri Joseph is nonetheless an artist with distinctly Cornish roots. Having lived there since his late teens, the region represents an embodiment of the ideals Joseph holds dear in his musical identity: his family life, and friendships, and the way they affect his ability to access emotion, especially through the clarity of a more rural background. Through this perspective he’s managed to steadily carve a musical niche for himself in the form of alternative, softly-spoken rock, which is woven together with elements of blues and folk. Joseph’s performance at Brighton’s Komedia was subsequently greeted by a very specific type of crowd, all politely anticipating his crooning tales, with the tunnel-like structure of the venue perfectly suited to acoustic projection.
Perhaps at Joseph’s behest, the support acts ensured this was a strictly Cornish affair, all having distinct local presence there. Opener Hollie Rogers, armed only with an acoustic guitar, entertained the early-arrivals with her brand of Joni Mitchell-influenced folk, her voice showing glimpses of power and the ability to remain understated in equal measure, particularly in closer “Beethoven”. Rogers, while refraining from trying to reinvent the wheel, was an exemplary support act, warming up a frosty Brighton crowd as the venue slowly filled. Falmouth’s Lily & Meg followed, demonstrating the song-writing talent and acumen that has seen them charm audiences across their European tour. Certainly, they charmed here. “Look Where They Lie”, with its haunting harmonies and enchantingly complimentary instrumentation – utilizing piano, harmonica, and banjo – had the Komedia spellbound. There was a maintained consistency for the entirety of their delightful set, displaying a lyrical maturity that belied their years, though newest track I’ll Be Yours was sadly notably absent.
Ruarri Joseph took the stage with a confidence that signified his maturity as a performer, easing in with “Got My Share”; the melodic nature of the guitar-work a fluid accompaniment to his comfortable vocal delivery. The cohesion of the various elements of Joseph’s songs, with the able assistance of Naomi Holmes and Harry Harding on bass, and drums respectively, as well as backing vocals, meant he was able to achieve that golden quality in live musicians: being more dynamic and exciting live than on recording. Rattling through a set which spanned last year’s “Brother” record, as well as those of his William the Conquerer live alias, such as “Cold Ontario”, Joseph was well-placed to welcome back to the stage Lily & Meg for the final few tracks. The duo’s added harmonisation and evocative instrumentation further increased the effect of Joseph’s tracks, with “Anyway” proving a fitting pinnacle of their performance, as they drew to a close. It was a refreshing sight to see the now-quintet sharing smiles as they frantically played the last chorus, showing an endearing integrity that shows they truly are loving what they do.
Words : Harry Reddick