DATE: 3/16/19


On March sixteenth, people slowly filed into the basement of The Slaughtered Lamb in London to see two people: Zoë Wren and Geri Van Essen. I arrived solely for the former.

When Zoë arrived on stage, it wasn’t with fanfare or flashing lights. Instead, a young girl stepped on to stage with a soft voice and her guitar and stood in front if the strung up Christmas lights ready to sing. True to fashion, she started off her storytelling style with a story.

After greeting the crowd, she began with, “This is from my first EP” and followed that up with a tale of a man she met who was busking to save up enough money to go to Morocco and be reunited with his love. With that, the singer-songwriter jumped into her first tube if the evening, “Just a Song Away.” It was a perfect want to start the show: a sweet song full or sadness and hope, not forcefully wrapping up the story with a bow but simply describing an interaction meant to leave the listener with a bit of wonder and curiosity. With her second song, the requested “45 Fever,” she transitioned into a faster pace to tell the story of, in her words, “a delusional man who thinks he’s a cowboy.” She mentioned her sickness (“I did load up on pills beforehand, so now I’m feeling a little rock and roll.”), covered an old American folk song by the name of “Little Sadie,” and mentioned her love for Joni Mitchell.

The last three songs of her set were my favorite. Of the trio, she started off with an (I believe) unreleased song that went by the name of “Don’t Touch My Guitar”. She preambled the song with a story – her story – how how she was recently busking at the Baker Street tube stop. “[There are] people who think they’re funny but are actually idiots,” she told the crowd, specifically mentioning some man who decided he’d hit a beat on her guitar as she was playing. She yelled the song’s title at him, thought “That’d make a good title of a song,” and the rest was history. The guitar fingerwork was quick, the song was catchy, and I got the chance to hear something I hope gets released very soon.

After the new song came my favorite song, “She’s A Highwayman.” It played even better live than it did on my phone, the combination of soaring vocals and guitar complementing each other well and gaining a new energy. Last but not least came my original favorite song, “Gold and Smoke,” which held the same beauty live as the song before it had. It also completed the set well, bringing a cyclical feeling to night. Like “Just A Song Away,” it was tale of a moment in time filled with sadness and joy. Where the first song spoke of desire for monetary gain to find love, “Gold and Smoke” felt like a follow up in it’s gain of money but loss of a relationship. It was a wonderful way to spend the evening, and for those who travel in London often, keep your ears peeled underground – you just might hear a sung story or two if you pay attention.


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