Nocture featuring Kiya Ashton, Hollie Thorne, Alex And Her and Ash Jarman – St James Cafe – 11/11/22

Nocturne - poster

Anyone who’s followed the musical career of Guernsey based singer songwriter Kiya Ashton closely will know that in recent months she seems to have redoubled her efforts to pursue her passion and part of that has been putting on a special show, Nocture, with a selection of other performers.

The night in the St James Cafe featured solo sets from Ash Jarman and Alex & Her (aka Nic Dinnie, seen elsewhere with The Tarantulips) before Kiya took to the stage along side Hollie Thorne for a unique duo set combining their solo material, all with the venue decorated like something of a secret garden.

Ash, started things off and it’s always great to hear him playing his own songs.

Ash Jarman - Nocturne
Ash Jarman

He brought a surprising level of groove and funk to a solo, acoustic guitar based, performance as he ran through a collection of songs written during his time in Sark with his special relaxed confidence.

This set the mood the night in a way that seems to have become something of a trademark for the venue with the largely seated audience quietly listening to the songs in an informal and relaxed way.

Next up was Jersey’s Nic Dinnie, making his first visit to Guernsey in sometime and the first time to perform as Alex & Her.

As he explained early on the name comes from a combination of his middle name and the common assumption that guitars are female, which cleared things up for a few in attendance who were asking, but really it was his music that did the talking.

Alex & Her - Nocturne
Alex & Her

Telling a story that linked the songs together worked excellently to weave a thread from tune to tune giving context to some of the shorter, more sketch like tunes, and elevating the more complete pieces.

With some subtle effects added to his gentle guitar playing and vocals he genuinely captivated the audience with his tales of lost love before moving onto some more stand alone songs that did just the same, even though the subject matter seemed to change to include a somewhat robot-centric view of the future – but they still worked brilliantly and clearly won over a lot of new fans.

Kiya Ashton and Hollie Thorne have both become very well regarded for their solo work in recent years so the idea of them joining forces was at the very least intriguing and it was clear there was something of a sense of anticipation as they took to the stage.

Across the set they jumped back and forth, going ‘song for song’, so to speak, through each of their repertoire’s adding extra vocals, instrumentation and other flourishes as they went along.

Hollie Lucia and Kiya Ashton - Nocturne
Hollie Lucia and Kiya Ashton

Obviously this was all well arranged and rehearsed but they presented it in such a relaxed and fun style that it felt like getting a glimpse into their process while also being a coherent performance in its own right that really drew the audience in and had me hoping for a split EP from the two after just the first couple of songs.

Their between song chat balanced out the often melancholy nature of their songs but without disrupting the atmosphere of the set, despite raising a few laughs, and musical highlights included Scorpio Rising, Jacket, Canyon and more.

The set as a whole was something truly unique and worked brilliantly, and it was great seeing two performers with their own styles coming together to elevate each other’s songs and not try to out do each other but do everything in service of the music.

As as whole Nocture was a terrific concept of an event, so I hope it isn’t just a one off, and the atmosphere in the cafe at St James suited it to a tee and it would be great to see more artists collaborating like Kiya and Hollie did here as it felt so natural and relaxed, which somewhat summed up the whole evening.

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