AIDEN HATFIELD - The Blue Lagoon, Bristol 07.04.19
AIDEN HATFIELD recently released his first solo EP, the appropriately titled ‘Chapter One’, which made it to #1 in the Amazon Rock Chart. A multi-instrumentalist who played every instrument in addition to providing vocals on the EP, Aiden had been in previous bands for the past ten years before embarking on this solo journey, the most recent being UTOXATOR. Aiden is also a mental health advocate and runs the In Music We Trust clothing brand, donating 50% of the profits to the Mind charity. He has a phenomenal amount of social media followers with whom he interacts prolifically including via a weekly live stream where he talks about mental health, and also answers questions about anything that may crop up, including mental health. During these live streams he usually also performs one or two of his own songs and/or cover versions.
Aiden is currently on tour to promote ‘Chapter One’ and has a band of musicians with him who join him for the second half of the set. Tonight’s venue is The Blue Lagoon, a café-bar on Bristol’s Gloucester Road. From the outside it looks like your typical eatery, as wooden tables take up the external dining area on the promenade. Inside, the rustic tables and wooden floors feel slightly at odds with the brightly painted murals that adorn the walls and ceilings, but it works. Fresh flowers in old gin bottles on each table are a nice touch, as are the blue fabric looped cables on the ceiling, from which hang bare lightbulbs.
Due in part to the sound engineer breaking down on the M5, at a somewhat later than advertised time, Aiden takes to the stage with his electric guitar for the first half of tonight’s entertainment, a solo set of new songs and covers. First new song is ‘Say What You Mean’, and as Aiden’s strong voice rings out, his skilful playing is the perfect accompaniment, enthralling the room. ‘Give It Up, Go Home’ and a cover of Blink 182’s ‘Always’ follow, which he performs with apparent ease. He has an easy-going, self-deprecating, comedic and unfiltered way with the audience, “I promise I’m not trying to remember how it starts”, he says as he strums for a few seconds before starting a song so new it’s unfinished and doesn’t yet have a name. At this point I’m reminded of a character from The Muppet Show, endearing and ever so slightly zany in a completely good and charming way. Last song of Aiden’s solo set is a cover of The Killer’s ‘Mr Brightside’, which to me sounds better than the original. There’s a really rich tone to Aiden’s voice and it’s a real treat to hear him just with a guitar in this first part of the set. The audience are captivated and cannot take their eyes off him.
After a short break, Chloe Gumbley (drums), Lee Newman (guitar) and Stuart Doonan (bass) join Aiden on the stage and proceed to put on a dynamic performance of the five songs from ‘Chapter One’, beginning with ‘I Never Cared’ and ‘This Horror In Me’. Chloe’s melodious and neat drumming in the centre of the stage certainly gives the boys a run for their money as she drives the beat, aided and abetted by her partner in the rhythm section, Stuart as his laid back bass keeps up a resonating rumble. Aiden really ramps it up and rocks out, throwing off the trucker cap he wore for the first half of the set, moving around and on and off the small stage area, using the entire space available to him. His vocals sound even better than on record, as the emotions come through in the lyrics, and the tone is blissful even with the rockier songs, as he has such great control.
As the set continues with the gorgeous ‘Fallen To Pieces’ and then ‘Say It Again’, Aiden gives a confident performance and continually engages the audience, even a particularly enthusiastic dancing (and rather drunk) man who has arrived late to the party. Lee on guitar is proficient and completely into the music, never still for a moment, as he swings around, playing killer riffs with delicate skill all the while. The final song of the night is ‘This Is Never Ending’, which was Aiden’s first single and he plays with total abandonment, moving around, up to the bar area and back down to the stage. The whole band give a fantastically well-rounded performance that delights the attentive audience. Everywhere I look, people are beaming. I wish there was another date on this tour that I could go to, as I would definitely go again. I highly recommend you go and see Aiden if he’s playing in a town near you!
Catch AIDEN HATFIELD live here:-
12 April - FirePit Rocks, Sheffield (Free gig)
13 April - Bar Loco, Newcastle Upon Tyne (Free gig)
20 April - The Face Bar, Reading (Retreat Fest Weekender)
21 April - Santiago Bar, Leeds (Free gig)
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