Sophie Barker has returned after 5 years with a new album, Seagull, and an 8-strong band for her UK shows. Sophie is most well-known for her work with Zero 7, co-writing and providing vocals on several of their biggest hits. Since 2005, with the release of the well-received solo album Earthbound, Sophie has become known as a respected singer-songwriter in her own right.
There is an excited mood at the Jazz Cafe tonight, and Sophie is as excited as everyone else. “I’m so happy to be here!” she tells us, to the crowd’s delight. The first song they play is the title track from Seagull, a plaintive, violin-laden track, which becomes almost anthemic live. Her band are a tight-knit unit, really coming into their own on songs such as new single Bluebell and Insight. The great thing about this gig is that they’re having such a fantastic time on stage, it’s hard not to as well. At one point Sophie shouts, “I’m having such a great time! I hope you are too!”
As well as Bluebell and Insight, another highlight is I Sit & Hide, for which most of the band leaves the stage, apart from the electric guitarist. Together they give an ethereal performance, showcasing the range and nuance of Sophie’s voice. In fact Sophie’s voice really is the star of the show tonight. It has a gorgeous quality to it, going from fragile to soulful to powerful, and constantly surprising us.
Sophie and the band seem really disappointed when they come to the end of their set, and I’m sure many in the crowd are as well. However, they return for an amazing encore of Zero 7’s massive hit The Waiting Line, Maybe I and an energetic cover of The Cure’s A Forest. A rousing end to a great gig.