March 2nd saw Amanda St John perform at the Harp Bar on Hill Street -the perfect venue for the illustrious singer-songwriter, the sophisticated and pleasant bar was buzzing and packed full of people.
The enjoyable atmosphere set the scene up nicely for first act Paula McAllister. With a powerful voice and a talented backing band, McAllister was a complete crowd-pleaser throughout and ended her set on a particularly notable take of “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams.
Next up was Americana folk singer Stef Campbell who accompanied her strong, husky singing with upbeat guitar strumming and was joined by two talented backing singers. They harmonised with her throughout. Campbell performed a variety of her own original songs which included “Bad Girl Boots”, “Take Me Home” and a rousing rendition of Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz” which everyone in the bar sang along with, concluding Campbell’s performance in a memorable and enjoyable way.
Amanda St John took to the stage and kick-started her performance with newest single “Big Strong Man”. This incredibly catchy, stirring, jazz infused tune showcased her exceptional vocal range, and the talents of every member of her backing band. With saxophone, electric guitar, bass, and rhythmic drums set against tremendous vocals, “Big Strong Man” set the performance bar high, and boy did St John deliver! A true performer, in all senses of the word, St John was captivating, belting out every song while dancing, swaying and grooving. With a musical style, look and attitude which would not be out of place in a Jazz club in New York, and a backing band comprising of very accomplished musicians, St John had half the bar up dancing. Standout songs for me included “Where is the Man”, the heart-wrenching “Come Back to Me” and the soulfully relatable, “You’ll Never Change”. A passionate rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” was St John’s choice of penultimate song and the show came to a close with another commanding execution of “Big Strong Man”.
Incredibly talented, glamorous, sophisticated and (dare I say it) sexy, Amanda St John was a class act from start to finish. Una Mackle, GiggingNI.com