Sari Schorr exudes soul. Her DNA is made of the Blues, and her freewheeling spirit is imbued with a laid-back vibe, making her shine. The moment she walks onstage, accompanied by FM guitarist Jim Kirkpatrick, the high-ceilinged Apex is suddenly a warmer, brighter place to be. So it remains for their forty-minute set, the two musicians turning the auditorium into an intimate space that feels like the back room of a club.
The Apex, Bury St Edmunds – 14 December 2023
Words: Paul Monkhouse
Photography: Laurence Harvey
Having made Europe her second home, the singer is known over here, but with a sold-out venue full of SWEET fans, their stripped-back numbers were going to be miles away from the rambunctious Glam Rock classics of the headliners, the audience a partisan one. There was no issue here, though, and Sari Schorr and Kim Kirkpatrick soon had the audience hanging on every word and note.
With just the two microphones and an acoustic guitar, the pared-down set-up really let the songs breathe, and both were able to concentrate on doing what comes naturally, the numbers becoming living and breathing stories that touched the soul.
The Gospel stomp of opener Freedom quickly got the attention of all eyes, its swampy feel full of the primal, Schorr’s tone and Kirkpatrick’s nimble picking blending seamlessly into each other. Switching moods, Back To L.A. is run through with pain and regret, the heft of the emotions raw but never overdone. The bone-deep blues of King Of Rock ‘N’ Roll may be the most perfect tribute to Robert Johnson ever written.
A heartbreaking Where Have You Been My Friend and the devastating Damn The Reason puts Schorr and Kirkpatrick to the test, each delicately handled but scorching with real feeling, the singer pouring her all into the lyrics as though she was living them right now.
As with her contemporary Beth Hart, Schorr really inhabits a song, and through this, she’s able to do so much more than sing but really conveys the experiences without slipping into anything overly showy or dramatic, walking that fine line between truth and exaggeration. Kirkpatrick’s playing is suitably nuanced, too, the fretwork never needlessly flash but tasty and tasteful, something he shared with old friend and touring partner, the late, great Bernie Marsden. Here, the song is the thing.
It’s not all heart-rending tales of pain and troubles, though, the joyful Turn The Radio On and ballsy Valentina lift the spirits, seeing the audience dancing and swaying to their irresistible rhythms.
After declaring her love for the UK, tonight’s set closes with the surprise rendition of Status Quo’s perennial classic Down Down, the Frantic Four’s only Number One single turned into a raucous singalong that may be shorn of its hard rocking speed but certainly motored along in its own sweet way.
New friends won over by great songs, compelling performances and the likeable musical chemistry between the two performers, this was a triumph and with a new album and tour next year, the future continues to look bright.
With the right material and the right people, music can change worlds, and after this set, the world certainly looked a happier place. You can’t say better than that. Magical.