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Joe Hicks fresh out of lockdown for storming Newbury hometown gig

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Joe Hicks (full band) with support Giles Stelfox at Arlington Arts on Saturday, September 4


THE show opened with a 40-minute set from multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Giles Stelfox, who uses ‘live looping’ to build tracks.

Giles Stelfox, picture Brian Harrington
Giles Stelfox, picture Brian Harrington

Essentially, this is a process of laying down loops of the different parts of a song – percussion, guitar, backing vocals etc live and then playing guitar and singing over the backing track you are creating simultaneously. This is a technically difficult process, fraught with risk.

The technical skills on display were impressive, but I am less sure whether watching each track being built has wide appeal after the first few songs. Sadly, on the final track of the set the technology gave up.

I have not seen Newbury’s own singer/songwriter Joe Hicks perform with a full band before, but I have seen him perform solo. He is a highly-accomplished guitarist, who started learning classical guitar at the age of nine and spent some time studying at the Royal Academy of Music.

Joe Hicks, picture Brian Harrington
Joe Hicks, picture Brian Harrington

His interest in contemporary music and electric guitar led him to spend a year at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

He released his first EP in 2017 and just four years on has achieved over a million streams on Spotify and recognition as BBC Introducing Artist Of The Week. This has led to tours in Britain and Europe, but then came lockdowns.

Joe used the enforced seclusion to do a number of internet live streams and to write and create new songs.

Drawing on a broad range of musical influences including rock, blues, folk and jazz Joe’s music is unashamedly fresh and contemporary. His band are musically superb and the show uses its own light show to great effect – a nod to prog rock perhaps.

A capacity audience, allowing for social distancing, loved the diverse set, which included Fade Away from his first EP alongside several new songs. I particularly enjoyed Swim, Hand In Hand and Sign. Talk To Me, Joe’s biggest track on Spotify led to a two-song encore of the poignant Rest Your Head and Burning.


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