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New Talent with Breakneck Force: Gemma Bradley's Whiplash

Updated: May 16, 2022

Whiplash was the name of the night of music put together by ever-talented Gemma Bradley, radio, artist and now promoter extraordinaire. If time doesn’t happen to be on your side and you need one takeaway from this article, know it was the staggering and sudden force of pure talent exceeding that of a head-on collision that made this night more than appropriately titled.

We caught Gemma after the show to find out exactly what went behind the creation of the event, the lineups that supplement it and the ethos behind ‘London’s newest monthly night of music’. The methodology is clear and the vision is simple: “to be able to give that platform to new and emerging artists”.


And it was the artists themselves that drove the quality of the night both in its creation behind the scenes and the entertainment value on stage too. “We’re very blessed to have such an amazing lineup … and it was an amazing show” said Gemma in reflection on the night. As a utility for artists, Gemma drew attention to the importance of playing gigs to rooms full of positive audiences and industry colleagues as something “really crucial in their career”. Something the night duly provides.


This framework, with each juncture at a sweet spot, puts Whiplash right in the centre of a desirable cross-section of live music. It’s artist-focused in its creation and objective, but also, the music quite simply sounds so very good. To be just “excited by live music again”, Gemma recounted, was one of the reasons why Whiplash is here, and hopefully here to stay.


 

And so it began, with Glowe bringing the bill to life and opening the night. It was the kind of performance that reminds you that one of the most exciting things about live music is the support act. Because it is artists like Glowe that provide you with the opportunity and privilege to come across raw, rugged and pure talent. With final sheens of polish yet to be applied and elements of her performance iteratively refined, Glowe shines a very clear light on her even clearer potential to do really special things in music. “I think this summer I’m gonna have some real exiting shows coming up”, Glowe tells us, having just announced a date in LA.


Her setlist was really pleasing. The way in which Glowe delivered it was reminiscent of a very good time in pop - the kind of time where putting on the radio was pretty consistently a pleasure to look forward to. With music indistinguishably relatable, more catchy than you like to admit and just fun to listen to, Glowe channeled the same characteristics, but live. She told us “I’m really focusing on making music that just makes me feel GOOD and want to dance”.

Further to her credit, Glowe covered Jorja Smith beautifully, catalysing audience sentiments appreciative of both the song choice and the cover itself. She had this infectious, spirited and powerful energy that translated into parts of her songs centred around female empowerment. Saying that she wanted “the fun, sexy and confident vibes to come through”, she really delivered them with a distinct edge that really worked. These sentiments also carried into Glowe’s afterthoughts, reflecting that she “felt the love on stage and off stage from the other incredibly talented women performing and running the event”.


These green shoots of talent put together were why watching Glowe on the night made her a musical impressiveness synonymous with excitement. There was a constant sense of the massive amounts of great she can do on the stage and in the studio as she develops more into the artist she wants to be. She gave us an exciting start to an exciting show by an exciting artist - and that was the Glowe effect.

 

“One second… my keyboard is unplugged” is how Tamzene greeted us for act two of the night, and with those subtle tones of humility, genuineness and something immediately gripping - she started how she meant to go on.


And once the keys became operational, they no longer felt like keys but like sounds individually crafted in a coating of majesty that flooded the room. Tamzene was giving these keys, and their notes, permission to do something they shouldn’t be able to do - in having the same effect as the grandest piano on the greatest stage. An audience member recounted a highlight of the night being the seamlessness with which Tamzene accompanied her commentary before a song with, what seemed like, chords scored specifically for that story. Poetry that moves on its own, yet coming out of nowhere - it was staggering.


Much the same as it was the humble keyboard that transformed into the grand piano, it was Tamzene - a fair portion of her released discography still demo’s, and songs performed unreleased to the world - that sat on the stage and transformed from an up-and-coming artist into that small demographic of musicians we might watch and consider virtuosic. The way the music came alive through her was stunning. Her songwriting captured all of the simple essences of the human experience and so neatly placed them into song; her performance exhibited music that sounded as if it were another entity in the room altogether.


Tamzene debuted her latest release ‘Cut Me Out Your Photos’ on stage and there’s not much more to the point other than its proximity to flawlessness. All the shortcomings you’d expect from first giving a song to an audience live were skipped, and the room was immediately absorbed by her enchanting, somber voice, accepting the now-established fact that this was very good music.

Tamzene live has this uncanny ability to convey an emotion and comprehensively project it to each and every person in the room in a way that inevitably feels personal to you. This stems from the fact that she feels “very much myself in my music, and honestly that’s what I’ve been working to get to: who am I as a person?”. It was her words, unshared with the world at large, which layer-by-layer created a storm of poignant emotion and then in the next instant gave you the umbrella to weather whatever that emotion was on the other side.


Between Tamzene and her audience felt a real and innate sense of shared vulnerability. She told us after the show, in the usual candour at this point, that “I’ve had pain, we’ve all had pain, so it’s a little bit about them and it’s a little bit about you”, in reference to the audience and her respectively. The fact that this happened in the first place - but in such a big way too - was deeply impressive and left a lasting impact on those that watched the show.


“I’ve been playing shows for a long time, I’ve been a busker for a long time, and now finally someone wants me on their lineup”, was how Tamzene summed the build up to this moment. But moments in music like this are not worth understating, and to that end Tamzene demonstrated what music is, what it can be, and all of what it should be. But she’ll probably tell you otherwise.

 

And from one musical giant to another, a special night of music came to a close with the one and the only Ellie Dixon. We’ve had the endless pleasure of covering another Ellie Dixon headline last year and in it we spoke of ‘the levels of talent and musical intellect of the very highest caliber’. This time, the trend went only upward.


Her presence coming on stage felt like that fit for a headliner. There was a shared understanding and bubbling anticipation that she was about to give the room exactly the kind of thing that people have continuously connected with at the very highest caliber of performance. And that is exactly how she delivered.


As the set progressed, pockets of the audience were looking at each other in the novel realisation and understanding that what they were witnessing was special - “she’s gonna be big one day”, an audience member remarked. All the while, you got the sense that as extraordinary as it was, in the moment it was very real, and Ellie made it seem very possible.

Because boiled down, this is what she does so well: an exemplary musical communication. When we think of a ‘person of the people’ it’s always very abstract and can mean different things; in a musical context Ellie Dixon is very simply the embodiment. Right from the very start and all the way into the actual layers of her live production sound, the audience were a part of her and she was a part of them. The endless and intimate call and responses, shared smiles over nothing in particular, and the chucking of oreos in a crowd eager to catch them makes the connection you see at an Ellie Dixon show special every single time. One of the oreos even landed directly in one of our cups.


A “collection of people that are beautiful, creative and funny in every way” is how Ellie described the people around her, in the audience and part of the Ellie Dixon journey. Rather unsurprisingly, on the other end, you have choruses of people - hundreds at shows, thousands on Instagram and millions on TikTok - dedicated to the cause, taken by her completely. She instigated an awesome wave of movement and reverberation across all parts of the room, frequently. Every off-beat vocal quirk of her songs was placed perfectly. Even coughs sounded like they were ad-libbed. It was as if the music followed her.


She also did covers. When Ellie performs her covers live it really brings back to the fore of music what can be so special about them. We’ve spoken before about covers sounding like they were destined and always meant to be another’s, and yet again Ellie defines this live. She characterises these songs, like Brittney Spears’ Toxic, in a way that sounds like every note and chord belonged solely to Ellie Dixon in that moment, upgraded in a way they’ve never before experienced. Covers can always be a point of contention in a set; Ellie Dixon breathes new life into their role in a setlist.


The running theme across the highlights of an Ellie Dixon show is the highlight itself of seeing Ellie Dixon do what she does best on a stage. You’re left with a general but amazingly distinct impression that what you saw on that night was a set driven by illimitable talent in cosmic expression.

 

And a night of unbridled talent and so much bursting potential - both from the artist’s and Whiplash as an event - came to a close. There was something about the opportunity Whiplash provided to be able to come across such raw talent in such an intimate setting that really stuck after the show. The bill had that lasting edge about it. Our conversations with artist’s were consistent with this throughout, it being well understood that Whiplash was providing, in some way, a pretty much essential service in their career. If you're a musician, or a music-lover, and want some essentials in your life, check out the next show.


Essential for careers; essential for your ears. That’s a musical whiplash.

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