4th Jul, 2022

MUSIC MATTERS: Captivated by mixed genre Coventry band Shanghai Hostage

Shanghai Hostage

Shanghai Hostage are a newish group with a great pedigree consisting of Beth Black, Sophie Hadlum, Richard Bear Brown, Matthew Stanley Donaldson and Ian Todd and their debut EP is about to be released with the lead song ‘Step Too Far’ on video as of now.

From day one, Shanghai Hostage have hinted at greatness. They never take themselves too seriously, and we shouldn’t too. On the contrary, never mistake their bit of fun for any lack of ability. This band know what they are capable of and this first single shows that so well.

If I am honest for this first single, I was expecting pop with a capital ‘P’. Well we got no such thing. Yes there is pop in the mix, but the overriding sound is joyous jazz that kicks off with a divine bass run and never lets up.

Lead singer Sophie Hadlum has one of the finest female vocals to come out of this city. Vocally, she is totally in control, her range is impressive as she skips around the lyrics like honey on warm toast. Yes, the video for this song is funny and very inventive, but I recommend you get acquainted with the song first without the visuals as they can be a trifle off-putting.

The band is made up of various members who have played in other local bands, some poles apart musically.

I asked Beth Black about how this worked. “Shanghai Hostage is an up and coming mixed genre band,” she replied. “Ranging from funk to folk, jazz to rock, influenced by each band members’ musical background. I am a former member of ‘Rooted n Booted’, and a lover of ska and reggae.

“Rich on bass is into the heavy, bluesier side of music, giving all the groove he’s got in his animated performances. Drummer Matt brings the psychedelic energy, and his beats are often improvised and experimental.

“Dynamic pianist and composer and singer Sophie provides the sass and soul through her bold vocals and engaging lyrics. And finally, the latest addition is musical magician Ian on guitar, also a member of local Jazztronica band Messages to Mars.”

The superb video that accompanies their debut single Step Too Far was filmed and edited by Diana Stefanescu. Sophie says: “We had ridiculous fun filming the video – we got all of the fancy dress bits and bobs we could find and danced around the canal and Canley Ford all day like hyperactive kids. And getting a custard pie smacked into my face is an experience I won’t forget in a hurry… I’m plotting my revenge as we speak”.

Shanghai Hostage’s EP launch will take place at the Tin Music and Arts on Friday March 22, with support from Duck Thieves and Brass Hip Flask and a funky DJ set from Oxalis.

Bassist Rich says: “This is our first EP and we’re incredibly excited to release it into the wild after nearly a year of bringing together our sound and honing our live set. It’s music to make you dance and we want you to join us on the dancefloor.”

Voodoo Kings

Congratulations to the superb Voodoo Kings who have announced that they will be supporting The Specials at their Cathedral Ruins gig on Thursday July 11.

There should be more such announcements to follow for the other three dates, as The Specials have invited local bands to support them for their homecoming gigs.

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