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The Hotel Cafe Tour 2006

The Cockpit, Leeds on 3rd December 2006
Reviewed by Dave on 4th December 2006

For those of you who aren't "in the know" The Hotel Café is a venue in Los Angeles where singer/song writers gather and sing, and write songs. The Hotel Café Tour comprises artists who have met and bonded through the venue, it went on the road in America two years ago and this is its first outing in the UK, hopefully it will be the first of many.

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When creating the Hotel Café Tour, Tom McRae and friends set out to create a night that was a little bit different, but was above all fun, both for the audience and for the artists involved and boy, how they succeeded. There was not a moment during this show where I wasn't having fun.

To talk about each individual artist would make this review far too long and probably quite rambling and boring, so the best way to do it I feel is to talk about what I thought to be the highlights, and even then there were a lot of highlights.

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The way the night works is a bit different, instead of having artists come on and perform a set and build up to a headline act they take it in turns to sing two songs and they keep rotating until the end of the night.

First up tonight was Tom McRae, one of the founders of the Hotel Café Tour is first on the stage tonight he opens with "Black Heart Rodeo" a b-side from the "Karaoke Soul" single followed by a gorgeous rendition of "For the Restless", which he forgets the first line to, so being a huge fan boy and being in the second row I helpfully shout "She comes to me in dreams, a train wreck beauty queen" Tom smiles and says "So it is, thanks" and my night is made. Tom comes on the stage another two times, he plays one of my favourite songs "Boy with the Bubblegun", a powerful version of "Walking 2 Hawaii" and closes the night with "Silent Boulevard". At which point everyone involved with the tour is on stage with him, playing an instrument of some description or providing backing vocals.

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Jim Bianco provides the crowd with some hard-rocking acoustic soul music with a slight twist of humour injected into it. Songs about stalking girls and looking up their skirts in the wind have never been so enjoyable. Jim's voice is soulful and sounds rather wonderful in a gravel-y kind of way, it is a voice that many of his peers envy, and with good reason it adds a lot of passion and uniqueness to his songs. At one point during his second set he has the rest of the artists come off the stage and into the middle of the crowd to perform a song sans microphones and amps.

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Another favourite of mine was Joe Purdy, who looks slightly like a hobo the tour just happened to roll over on its way here; his music however shows him to be a singer and guitarist of real talent. A mix of acoustic rock and more blues-y numbers keep the crowd more than entertained.

Rating: 10/10
Website: myspace.com/hotelcafetour

There is so much more I could say about the night, about the artists on tour but mere words cannot do justice to the experience of seeing The Hotel Café Tour live. With three more UK dates you would have to be mad to miss seeing this spectacle if you live near where they are playing.

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