The Troubadour at Earls Court. Upstairs is the quirky coffee house and restaurant which I don’t think has changed in appearance since I first visited it in the 70s. Downstairs is a venue at the heart of London’s music scene, a cramped cellar which has seen the likes of Bob Dylan grace its stage. Last night it played host to Sadie and the Hotheads, Sadie being American actress Elizabeth McGovern, more recently known as Cora, Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey.
The support is Rachael Sage, a singer songwriter and pianist from New York. She plays keyboard and is accompanied by a cellist. Rachael radiates intelligence and vertuosity, with clever and witty lyrics. Her style is reminiscent of Laura Nyro and a little of Regina Spektor. She is an assured performer, very at ease at commanding the stage, and she coaxes some laughs from the audience with her self-deprecating, New York Jewish humour.
With little preamble, Sadie and the Hotheads take to the stage and launch into their first, and one of their stronger numbers. Elizabeth McGovern is tall and elegant, with a yummy-mummy-does-rock-chick look – gauzy black and red short dress, ankle boots. Joining her on backing vocals is equally tall and elegant Lizzie Dean. Elizabeth has assembled herself a fine band. With brothers Steve and Simon Nelson on guitar and bouzouki, plus a drummer, bassist and keyboard player, the band have a full, rich sound, and they proceed to pound out a set of numbers which fairly much span the gamut from country veering to rock.
Liz’s voice is pleasant and melodic but not particularly strong. There’s nothing diva-ish about her stage presence, she steps back and allows the band equal billing. Sadie and co are not out there professing to be super-cool and hip, they look like a band just out to have fun, and doubtless the Downton Abbey connection has secured Sadie and the Hotheads their first foot in the door.