16 October, Spiegeltent, HBAF18 By Ian Thomas
Pop isn’t a genre. It’s a bucket that holds so much of everyday life.
Pop music is, by default, derivative, that’s how we recognise its sound.
Louis Baker’s show is full of pop. Sometimes funky, sometimes soulful, sometimes beautiful. Baker has a massively good instrument within him. He multiplies his talents. One, his voice. One, he plays guitar and accompanies himself. One plus one equals three.
From the beginning we are assured that the slow, plaintive, love songs will give way to lively dance music. That doesn’t happen. The first set is filled with slow, teenage, love songs. Generic lyrics do nothing to enhance the tunes. Louis is more than proficient with acoustic and electric guitar but the tempo doesn’t warm the evening. We sit, waiting for the promised uplift. Lisa Tomlins joins Louis, but not, as some of us hope, in duet, but as a massively over-talented backing singer. Louis holds the centre ground. The first set closes with promises of the band, and more upbeat tracks in the second set. The star is conscious of the slow pace.
The second set commences at the same pace but with more instruments. A fuller sound. Drums, bass, keyboards, each played by superbly proficient musicians. They are but supporting players. They remain tethered. The second set grinds passively on. The fully seated audience are given little reason to get up and dance. Louis’ voice is the highlight of the evening. He demonstrates his range early on, before confining himself to familiar pop-soul refrains.
Oh I wish he would have unleashed his own undeniably wonderful voice! I wish he’d unleashed his talented performers. This evening was a stage performance of background music.
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