Retune launches in Bishops Stortford with LOZT, Van Susans and Jess Folley
Retune, a project that promotes wellbeing and mindfulness through music, launched at The Horn at the Half Moon Inn on Sunday and what a launch it was! A packed-out audience enjoyed powerhouse performances from three outstanding acts.
The series of monthly concerts is intended to benefit the audience’s own mental health by allowing them to leave their troubles at the door, relax in the newly refurbished Long Room and relish exceptional live music.
The project has been brought to fruition by the Bishop’s Stortford Independent’s own Tom Ryder – and it’s clear that he had poured his heart and soul into the venture.
Tom makes up one half of LOZT, a folk-pop acoustic duo with Californian Lauren Scudder. The duo were the evening’s headline act and they gave a captivating performance that was a joy to watch.
While Tom and Lauren usually perform together as a couple, they were joined by a full backing band – drummer Max Lauder, double bassist John Parker and pianist Azzedine Loukil. The five-piece outfit had great chemistry.
Tom’s vocals suited Retune’s purpose perfectly: soothing and enchanting – any stress that I’d been carrying around melted away. Lauren was simply amazing; her rich, soulful voice was spellbinding.
Tom and Lauren’s harmonies blended together flawlessly, and their lyrics perfectly encapsulate the ups and downs in any passionate relationship with vulnerability, humour and honesty.
They also performed two covers together during the evening: Avril Lavigne’s Complicated and Whitney Huston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody – their version of this 80s classic has been streamed more than 20,000 times on Spotify. Tom and Lauren made the track their own to such an extent, it took a few moments for me to work out why it sounded so familiar.
LOZT’s supporting acts were London-based alternative folk-rock band Van Susans and 14-year-old Jess Folley, last year’s winner of The Voice Kids. Van Susans were performing with one member short; violinist Holly McLatchie had been unable to make the show, so her bandmates, Olly Andrews, Ed Dullaway, Harvey Simpson and Rob Dullaway, went on without her.
They were a lot of fun to watch; their songs were immensely catchy and the band – who each possessed undeniable charisma – were clearly having a lot of fun together on stage. I spilled my drink over myself more than once by clapping a little too enthusiastically after each song.
Jess Folley, Retune’s opening act, was accompanied by Tom on guitar for her first two songs, and the pint-sized songstress was astounding.
She began with Way Too Good at Goodbyes as a homage to Sam Smith, who has himself performed at The Half Moon with the Bishop’s Stortford Acoustic Club.
Jess is incredibly natural on stage and has a beautiful, mature voice. Her capability to belt out the power notes could give Beyoncé a run for her money.
But equally, when Jess sang the softer notes, she was just as mesmerising. She closed her set with Demi Lovato’s Stone Cold, while playing the keyboard, and it was evident that she is going to go far.
* Retune’s next gig at The Horn at The Half Moon will take place on May 13. It’s an event not to be missed.