Question: How do you make a room full of men and women miss you terribly, then the second you step onstage the love is there in your face?
Answer: Become Carina Round and move to LA. Return for a handful of UK gigs for the first time in a couple of years and enjoy!
That’s exactly what happened tonight. Local lass, Wolverhampton girl and soulful songstress Carina Round was playing the penultimate night of her first UK Tour in nearly 5 years. Ok, there has been the gig she did in the same venue last year and a handful of random acoustic dates in Birmingham and London in that time, but for the more wider-spread fan, it’s been a good treat.
As soon as Round walked onto the small Hare & Hounds stage you could feel the room fall silent and the warmth of appreciation and anticipation wash over everyone there. A brief hello and Carina steps away from the mic and starts the opening strums of ‘Set Fire’ with the band following. The tour is in support of her latest album ‘Tigermending’ which was predominantley funded via the fans and pledgemusic. This worldwide tour went the same route and is a testament to how much her UK fans want to see her more often. The set tonight is heavy with newer material, the opening trilogy show just how much of a proficient songwriter she has become. ‘Set Fire’ is a slow burning rock epic which builds and builds into a cacophony of those signature vocals. ‘Weird Dream’ is a jazzy, funky yet slightly paranoid infusion of sounds driven along by haunting vocals. ‘This Is The Last Time’ turns from a small rock beast too being the first of many songs tonight to tear a new hole on the roof. Epic screaming vocals from Carina coupled with thunderous guitar licks and an incredible rhythm section show the full potential this lady has if she was given the right break.
The gorgeous ‘Down Slow’ provides a delicate moment of reprieve. The jangly guitar line reigning throughout the venue. ‘Pick Up The Phone’ comes next and is followed by a nice surprise. Carina jokes about how ‘American’ she’s become and announces “Here’s proof” launching straight into a cover of Prince’s ‘I Would Die For You’. A good rendition which leaves a few faces in the crowd slightly perplexed. ‘Mother’s Pride’ and ‘You Will Be Loved’ follow with the latter being a nice surprise as I hadn’t expected to hear it live. ‘Elegy’ arrives next and sees her at one point stood opposite lead guitarist Tom Livemore almost playing off each others riffs.
One thing that can be said about any Carina show in the UK is she has her regular fans, those who turn up and call out for the most obscure songs from her back catalogue to see how she’ll react. Tonight is filled with plenty of those. The room falls silent as she starts the delicate ‘For Everything A Reason’. Pure bad timing though as someone walks into the room from the toilet and the sound of Wintersleep in the next room comes pouring through. This causes everyone to start laughing and Carina to start the song again. As she does, a young man on the opposite side of the room declares his annoyance at someone talking exclaiming loudly “I’ve waited 5 years to hear this!”. ‘Girl And The Ghost’ comes next providing another loud and stunning highlight off the record that transforms tenfold live. Intuitively followed by ‘Into My Blood’, always a live favourite with its rauchous playing, screamy vocals and pure passion. The set draws to an end and the band leave the stage, we all know they’re coming back, Carina declared off the stage…!
A minute later, they fight their way back through the crowd and Carina returns to centre stage alone, the band sat at the bottom of the steps. She picks up her acoustic guitar as someone calls out for ‘Ribbons’. She plays and tries to remember the riff, succeeding and playing just a couple of teasing bars. “There you go” she smiles towards the audience. Next up comes “The God Song” as she recalls the story of how a friend called out at a previous gig a few years ago. When she first wrote started to perform the song, I admit, I didn’t get it. It seemed “too American” of her almost, as if she was selling out. All these years later I can admit I am a convert. The first half is sung so delicately and tenderly, and acapella. As she aproaches the break and starts to strum, the whole room comes to life. It’s a magical moment, I cannot explain how nice that moment was. Such a tender sweet and passionate performance. The night comes to a genuine close with the glorious ‘You & Me’. A song about love and loss and love and happiness. She explains that she “left it until last cos of the Kings Heath line, but come to think of it, most of the songs I’ve done tonight have all been about home”. It’s almost a stadium moment, people are singing along happily and as soon as the “A park in Kings Heath” line is sung everyone cheers. A silly yet fab little moment.
As she thanks us for coming, you can tell she’s genuinely excited to be ‘home’ as there are hints of tears in her eyes at the love embraced tonight in the room. She makes her way to the merchandise stall to greet people who want to say hello. This local girl goes from strength to strength and blows me away everytime I see her. If you haven’t discovered her yet, I recommend you give her a go and see her next time. If you’re disappointed I’ll eat my hat. If you know what i’m on about already, then we are the lucky ones.