Marylebone Gardens is a bar and basement venue in Marylebone High Steet, operated by Theatre Delicatessen. It's opposite Daunt Books, the BBC is nearby....it has (not kidding, it really does) an astro-turfed chill-out zone and an ultra-hip bar. And a good, unobtrusive guy on sound.
Last night the venue was hosting a preview of an Edinburgh Festival show, with singer/songwriters Ana Silvera, Maya Levy and Richard Godwin. Host/MC Josh Neicho interspersed their sets of songs with his carefully, cleverly crafted verse monologues. The first of these charted a failed cyber-relationship with eloquence, another probed the strange mind-set of heritage custodians who somehow find it normal to spend other peoples' millions on Titian pantings. It was consistently sharp writing, with a keen sense of irony, and humour, and well delivered too.
Ana Silvera is a singer/songwriter and award-winning composer. An Irish-Syrian North Londoner, she has had Roundhouse commissions, and worked with an impressive list of top names in both pop and classical music. The joy of last night's performance was to hear her just delivering her songs. She's an absolutely natural communicator on this small scale. There's real honesty in this performance, and her two highly characterful songs definitely weren't enough.
Jacques Brel is named as an influence for Ana Silvera. He also figures strongly in the background for Richard Godwin, who has strengthened vocally and as a performer since I last heard him in 2010. The song "A Powerful Message" stays even more strongly in the mind than it did then. Richard's day job is as a feature writer at the Evening Standard, and being downwind of corporations' "powerful messages" is territory he must know now even better than he did then. My erudite companion for the evening was completely mesmerized by his right hand guitar technique, which reminded him of Sidi Toure. The third musician on the bill, Maya Levy, is a very clever and intelligent songwriter.
A show to be recommended if people find themselves in Edinburgh at festival-time, where it will also feature Gwyneth Glyn, Marie Naffah and Sophie Ramsay.
The show will at the Fiddlers Elbow, 4 Picardy Place EH1 3JT, 6.30-7.30, from 20th-25th August (20th August not listed in the Fringe guide and officially a preview but it will be a full performance). It's part of PBH's Free Fringe.