By Leanne Knibb
The Brookes are a soulful, hard blues rocking couple from Wales. Having met in college whilst studying music (Philip) and fashion (Leanne) in Cardiff, their love for music and infatuation for each other’s musical talent brought them together. Even though they state their marriage doesn’t define them, it is certainly the blend of their love and talent that creates a spiritual musical plane from within.
Performing for the first time in five years at The Moon Club in Cardiff, they transported their audience through what can only be described as a mystical journey through the musical soul. The set was a concerto, each movement with a solo instrument, accompanied by atmospheric samples and Leanne’s beautiful soulful voice. A vocal range that makes her hard to be compared to others already out there.
Part one started with the song ‘Cross to Bare’, which created a dark atmospheric tone. Unfortunately the power dropped on the Keyboard half way through the song. But like professional troopers, Leanne filled the time speaking to the crowd, and as soon as it was fixed, they picked up from where they left off. They then followed with ‘The Gift’, a beautiful song of pain and confusion.
However, the song that amazed me the most was their cover of Louis Armstrong’s ‘Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?’ The cover was given a true Brookes style, that if hadn’t been told it was a cover, you would of assumed it was a Brookes original. Starting off with a cacophony of brass, and chants, the song leads into a very soulful version. Very different to Louis Armstrong’s jazz style. They then ended the segment with a song that transported you to the cotton picking fields or part of a civil rights march.
This gave a fantastic transition into the second movement. The first song was ‘Seven to Seven’, where Philip introduced us to his electric guitar playing. Giving a more rocky blues tone to the segment. The music in this movement created wonderful imagery of Black American culture, and their struggle for equality. For their cover in this section, they did the Muddy Waters version of ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’. The tone of this song continued the theme already created for this movement. Philip’s guitar playing nurtured the deep rocky blues of the song, with Leanne’s perfect pitch and timing, a wonderful cover of a classic.
The tone then began to change, with sounds of crickets and frogs and harmonious synths, taking you on a journey down the Mississipi river, ‘to find my own true love’ and the start of the third movement. Starting with Philip playing on guitar, giving a spoken introduction to the next song, saying it was about ‘saying sorry to someone you didn’t get a chance to.’ This was one of the most beautiful songs on the set. The lyrics expressed the very feelings that many of us felt. Leanne expressed the pain of regret, accompanied by Philip’s pained guitar. Both with expressions of anguish on their faces, as if they had gone back to that moment of regret.
The third movement, seemed to move away slightly from the older school blues, and more to a slightly modern Rhythm and Blues. However, the songs they sang, still continued the theme of anguish and hurt. They ended with the song Witch Hunt, that gives a dark imagery of witches being hunted and burned at the stake. However, considering the tone of the previous movements and tales, this could be seen as a metaphorical song, for the days of struggle felt by black americans, as they ran in fear from vigilante groups.
The Brookes performance was a magical, and filmic one. A tale was told, which maybe each one of us in the room took a different interpretation of. For me though it was a journey through the musical soul, showing me the variations of the Blues movement, and the tales of the people who inspired such a movement. I look forward to following this wonderful duo, and see what future journeys they take us on.
Check out The Brookes at www.thebrookes.net