Strolling into Paper Dress at 7:45 on 5th September, I was greeted by the soul diva that is Grace doing her soundcheck. In a cosy vintage boutique/bar with dim lighting and friendly bar staff it was near impossible not to feel at home within a matter of minutes. If you are a fan of Deaf Havana then you would have already heard Grace sing as she featured on the band’s last album Old Souls as a backing vocalist, she also joined them on tour and again at Reading and Leeds in 2013.
This gig at Paper Dress was free, a chance for Grace to showcase her work as an individual and so many of her friends gathered in the tiny boutique to support her. Among these friends were Max and James from Deaf Havana who also happened to be her support act. Before they graced the shop window though, we had the chance to listen to the sounds of Jonathon Holder, a man who is easy listening with such an old sound.
Having arrived at 7:45 , it only served me right that I should wait 3 hours before proceedings kicked off but the wait didn’t seem anywhere near that long thanks to the DJ at Paper Dress who not only played the best songs but also gave us a lively dance during her set. More and more people crammed into the tiny venue until I really was rubbing shoulders with pretty much everyone including Lee Wilson from Deaf Havana who also showed up to the event. 10 pm came and both Max and James took to the shop window, in amongst clumsy guitar tuning, a warning that James may very well forget the lyrics (surprise surprise) and a request to supply them with drink due to their awful bank balances; the boys played 2 new songs and a cover of Paolo Nutini’s Iron Sky which went down a storm.
The performance of the night really was Grace herself, the reason why so many of us had voluntarily become tinned sardines for the night. Being female myself, I felt nothing but empowerment watching that wonderful lady completely own the whole room … her big hair only matches her huge voice and personality and I found myself completely mesmerized by her. Think Beyonce in ‘Work It Out’ but with more sass. With only 3 songs to perform it was a shame the set was so short but the setlist again was 2 of her own tracks including new song Tonight and a cover. With a voice that is so soulful and timeless, it will only be a matter of time before you hear Grace blasting through your radio. Definitely one to keep your eye on.