Sunday, 29th September 2019
Review by Kira Levine
Photography by Graham Hilling
It was ladies’ night on this Sunday at The Dome, Tuffnell Park, London. Californian Emma Ruth Rundle would perform with her band, with special guest Jo Quail opening the show. Completely sold out and with eager fans eyeing up the merchandise stand an hour before showtime, the level of anticipation in the venue was plain to see.
Welcomed with many cheers and whistles, Londoner Jo Quail took centre stage, the lights dimming as she started to play her cello.
During ‘White Salt Stag’, Jo switched from using a bow to slapping the string instrument with her bare hands momentarily, before switching back to her former technique. She also slapped the bow against the strings instead of gliding it to create some more varied sounds.
Gradually, other various string instruments were introduced as the song progressed, which built up a lot of suspense. The shifting blue/red/turquoise lights that flooded her added drama to the first track of the night.
After receiving a round of applause, Jo gushes, “Thank you very much indeed! London, it’s great to be home!”
‘Gold’ is up next. There are some metallic percussion parts that evoke the chiming sound of an instrument which could well be made out of the precious metal. Things get a bit more electric later in the song and the chimes begin to fade out.
Throughout, a golden light is beamed down onto the solo cellist, again another relation to the song title.
Jo announces that she has set up her own record label. Her release of Exsolve, in the form of a double vinyl, has a bonus track on it called ‘Reya Pavan’, which she then proceeds to play before stating: “I’ve played it now six times… totally different performance every single time.”
“Some would say mistake, but we’ll just say it’s contemporary music, okay! And I’m also pulling my own hair out, which seems to be an occupational hazard when you play the cello!”
Quail is a very captivating performer, and The Dome falling completely silent as she played demonstrated this perfectly.
After ‘Magicantus’, Jo Quail gives her thanks to Emma Ruth Rundle for making her feel “very welcome” and Old Empire for the past four days of the tour.
Before commencing with her final instalment, ‘Adder Stone’, Jo enthused: “You are an incredibly respectful audience – I would love to take you all with me!” which receives quite a few giggles.
Jo Quail’s forty-five minute set is met with enthusiastic clapping at its end. Her instrumental performance definitely marked a successful start to the evening.
A little after nine o’ clock, the headlining act arrives on stage, greeted with huge applause. “Good evening. My name is Emma Rundle, this is my band. We’re gonna play some music for you.”
After a straightforward introduction from the singer-songwriter/guitarist, they waste no time and start to play ‘Fever Dreams’.
The crowd are noticeably more familiar with Rundle’s work as they showed their appreciation in the form of cheers at the beginning of tracks, rather than reserving it for the end. This is likely the reason behind some songs not being introduced by name.
‘So Come’ is a song full of emotion, mostly brought about by Emma’s breathy, echoing vocals.
“This song is called ‘Protection’,” the singer-guitarist says of the track she’s about to play.
The vocal delivery of some lines in this song such as “I am small but in your arms / you are colder in your heart / I am worthless in your arms” can be really felt as poignant to Emma, because she really stresses them, as if the lyrics were inspired by personal experience.
‘Dark Horse’ is dedicated to the singer’s sister, whom she loves “very much”. You can tell she means it, as it was one of her best performances of the evening.
After playing ‘Control’, “a song about addiction and abuse”, Emma Ruth Rundle sits at the edge of the stage and gives special mentions to Old Empire and Jo Quail, describing her as “absolutely incredible”, “a heard act to follow”, and “such a lovely person.”
During ‘Dead Set Eyes’, there is a section where Emma plays the melody she previously sung on her guitar, repeated as an outro, which was extremely mesmerising.
‘Real Big Sky’ was chosen as the solo encore, which saw Rundle return onto the stage by herself. Hearing her voice and electric guitar alone allowed her words to breathe and be felt. It also made for a much more vulnerable yet powerful performance than her previous eleven songs of the night.
Giving her final thanks and receiving a lengthy applause in response, Emma Ruth Rundle left the stage, closing the show. No one seemed to be bothered by the concert running a little over time, many leaving with various new purchases, such as t-shirts and physical albums, emblems of their support for the women.
Setlists & timings
Jo Quail: 20.00–20.45
1. White Salt Stag
3. Reya Pavan
4. Mandrel Cantus
5. Adder Stone
Emma Ruth Rundle: 21.00–22.00
1. Fever Dreams
2. Apathy On The Indiana Border
3. So, Come
7. Marked For Death
8. Dead Set Eyes
10. Light Song
11. You Don’t Have To Cry
12. Real Big Sky