Kerri Watt with support from NARN / Maguire’s, Liverpool | 4th of November

Kerri Watt with support from NARN / Maguire’s, Liverpool | 4th of November

On the 4th of November we went to Maguire’s Pizza Bar to see singer songwriter Kerri Watt, with support from Liverpool based NARN. On an evening hosted by Love Music Promotions, both artists performed stripped back acoustic sets without their backing bands, which, along with the dingy back room of Maguire’s and small turnout on the night, made for an intimate atmosphere.

First up was country pop artist NARN, who opened the show on keyboard for the first few tracks, (a live first for her) before switching to the acoustic guitar and loop pedal combo which has been getting her solo shows some attention. It was clear from the first track that NARN is a talented vocalist, (somewhat reminding me of country artist Rachel Brooke) and, given she studies at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, the fact she is a multi-instrumentalist to boot was unsurprising! On the night though the sound of the keys in these first songs was a bit lacklustre, and they weren’t her strongest tracks. A cover of George Ezra’s Budapest was the first offering on guitar, which suited NARN’s vocal style surprisingly well and made excellent percussive use of the loop pedal.

The clear standout track of her set was the finale Momma’s Broken Heart, which shed the pop elements for a much darker sound, closer to “traditional” country, and with the lyrics telling a story of madness, lost love and keeping up appearances. The use of the loop pedal in a live setting is always tricky, but NARN pulls it off effortlessly. Overall, NARN still seems to be finding her style, but her youth and obvious talent suggest she could be one to watch.

Kerri Watt took to the stage next, with support from a friend who acted as percussionist, backing guitarist and vocalist, photographer and leafleter at various points in the night. She Said, a track dedicated to her mother, was an early highlight for it’s soulful vocals, and the infectious verse progression with a chromatic slide on the guitar. Like NARN, Watt switched between keys and guitar, with her companion playing varying accompanying instruments. Song of my Soul from her upcoming debut album, due next year, was an ode to her northern homeland of Scotland with Watt on keys, featuring emotive vocals and lyrics from a perpetual wanderer dreaming of home.

Towards the end of the set there was a bit of audience participation, the crowd joining in on percussion with a cover of Sam Cooke’s Good Times Roll. (Which worked out surprisingly well, partly because the crowd was mostly made up of music students!) Then NARN joined Watt on stage for a beautiful rendition of Carole King’s You got a Friend, a track they had only rehearsed once during sound check, but which nevertheless was a highlight of the night. There was no shortage of vocal talent on display, and when performing together Kerri and NARN’s harmonies were flawless.

Kerri finished her set with Long Way Home, which made waves upon it’s release in 2015 due to the music videos raw story of homophobia. Watt finished her set with encore track Maybe after the sound guy joined in with the crowd’s pleas for one more. (So she had no option, really!)

Overall, there was no shortage of particularly vocal talent on display on Saturday. While I must admit to not being completely sold on the more radio oriented studio sound of either artist, it was good to catch both in a stripped back acoustic setting where their vocal talents (And Narn’s loop pedal) were able to come to the fore, and it would great to see some album tracks in that style on future releases, rather than a consciously “commercial” sound.

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