Hudson Taylor Joined By Very Special Guest

by Jessikah Hope Stenson

This Wednesday, the crowd at the Exeter Phoenix were enchanted from the outset when Hudson Taylor opened with a track from their upcoming album, Singing For Strangers. Just A Thought was a crowd-pleaser despite, being practically unknown. The full band set-up on stage fuelled clapping which set the tone for the rest of the gig.

Jack Morris was a charismatic support act. With just his acoustic guitar, rough voice, and riveting lyrics, he made the audience laugh and impressed them at the same time, demonstrating true skill. His song, Wake Up In A Take Away Neon Light, was witty which was widely appreciated. Yet it was the performance of his song, Rebel Rock, which grabbed the most attention.

Then came a very special guest appearance in the form of Gabrielle Aplin, which was a brilliant addition to the evening. Due to Aplin’s fame and success, I was initially nervous that she would overshadow Hudson Taylor. However, Aplin took a back seat, gracing the audience with her beautiful, gentle vocals, for a couple of songs with Jack Morris and Hudson Taylor respectively.

The successful setlist incorporated a strong mixture of old songs, for good singalongs, as well as treats from the upcoming album. The danger with bands that play new songs at gigs is the likelihood of a disconnection with the audience. It comes down to the fact that the audience is there, not only for the band they like, but the songs they love. Yet Hudson Taylor seemingly understood this and sidestepped it wonderfully. Not only did they release acoustic versions of the songs to YouTube in advance of the gig, they also took a moment to teach the audience the singalong lyrics before beginning a song. Notably, Gabrielle Aplin and Jack Morris made extra appearances for Don’t Know Why, to lead the audience into the chorus. Plus, the high quality of the sound in the Phoenix meant that the new lyrics could be heard clearly in addition to the layer upon layer of instruments.

Part-way through the evening, Hudson Taylor stood on the forefront of the stage to perform their song, Arrive, minus electricity. As it was simply Harry, Alfie, and their guitars, the audience was inevitably silenced and stood witness to their undeniable ability. This talent was also demonstrated during tracks such as Weapons, World Without You, and Chasing Rubies. Harry moved across electric and acoustic guitars as well as taking to the keyboard for tracks like Battles, which concluded the evening with a buzz. Hudson Taylor also brought on an excellent fiddle player which added Irish charm to the night and gave the gig a memorable feel. Wrapped up in their own harmonies – which are as stunning as legend says – Harry and Alfie extended their excitement to the audience. They presented themselves as genuinely lovely people, taking a moment to thank the guy who had earlier shown them the mural in Exeter and encouraged them to busk there.

Overall, the evening successfully demonstrated that Hudson Taylor are just laying the groundwork for what I predict to be a lengthy and prosperous career. Not just any band could have given such a successful performance.

Catch our interview with Hudson Taylor here.